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'Confounding problem' of excess nitrogen subject of Oct. 4 Moos lecture

Agricultural economist and former EPA committee chair Otto Doering to deliver lecture as part of Moos Family Speaker Series on Water Resources

September 18, 2012

Nitrogen is a crucial part of all living things, but the millions of tons of nitrogen manufactured by humans every year are a two-edged sword: artificial nitrogen, applied as fertilizer, has greatly increased food supplies; but, the escape of nitrogen into the environment causes serious air and water pollution, as well as human health problems. The National Academy of Engineering called the proliferation of chemically reactive nitrogen one of the “grand challenges” facing scientists and policy-makers in the 21st Century.

Otto Doering is a Purdue University agricultural economist who chaired a 2011 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency committee on nitrogen. Doering will discuss the difficult choices facing scientists and policy-makers as they seek to maintain the benefits that human-created nitrogen provides while limiting its environmental damage during a free, public lecture beginning at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 4, at the St. Paul Student Center, 2017 Buford Ave.

The lecture is sponsored by the Freshwater Society and the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences. It is titled Excess Nitrogen: A Confounding Problem for Energy Use, Food Production, the Water We Drink and the Air We Breathe.

Doering’s nitrogen committee concluded that, as a first step, policy-makers should pursue agricultural and industrial efficiency measures that the committee said would allow crop production to increase while reducing the escape of excess nitrogen into the environment by 25 percent.

The lecture is the ninth in the Moos Family Speaker Series on Water Resources honoring the late Malcolm Moos, president of the university from 1967 to 1974.

About the Freshwater Society
The Freshwater Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and inspiring people to value, conserve and protect water resources. Located in Excelsior, Minn., it has a long history of association with the University of Minnesota. Learn more at

About the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences
The College of Biological Sciences provides education and conducts research in all areas of biology, from molecules to ecosystems, supporting applications in medicine, renewable energy, ecosystem management, agriculture and biotechnology. Learn more at

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