Percentage of Mineral Depletion From Soil
During the Past 100 Years by Continent:
The North American continent has had an average of 85% mineral depletion over the past 100 years — the worst of any other country in the world!
Studies By Dr Linus Pauling on Soil Mineral Depletion:
Studies By Dr Linus Pauling, twice noble prize winner, said “you can trace every sickness, every disease and every ailment to a mineral deficiency”. Yet, all over the world, minerals are disappearing from agricultural soils at an alarming rate. In 1992, the official report of the Rio Earth Summit concluded “there is deep concern over continuing major declines in the mineral values in farm and range soils throughout the world”. This statement was based on data showing that over the last 100 years, average mineral levels in agricultural soils had fallen worldwide – by 72% in Europe, 76% in Asia and 85% in North America. What has caused this staggering decline?
Most of the blame lies with artificial chemical fertilisers. We now know that plants absorb 70 to 80 different minerals from the soil, while the number returned to it by plants grown with commercial fertilisers can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Every crop that is cut or animal that is sent to market marks a further depletion in the mineral status of the soil on which it was raised. Organic wastes that in former times would have been composted and returned to the land are nowadays mostly consigned to landfill sites or incineration.
There are many other ways in which the move to chemical farming prevents crops from taking up even the sparse amounts of trace minerals left in the soil. Soil contains bacteria, fungi, plant and animal life, in a state of constant interaction and balance. Every one of these organisms needs dozens of different minerals to survive and play its part in the ecosystem. Some bacteria have a vital role in converting soil minerals into chemical forms that plants can use. NPK fertilisers (fertilisers used in modern farming that only contain nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) gradually change the soil pH towards acidic conditions in which these bacteria can not survive. To combat soil acidification farmers lay lime on the land adding back calcium and magnesium to raise the soil pH, but it also converts manganese and some other trace minerals into chemical forms that plants are unable to absorb.
Pesticides and herbicides also reduce the uptake of trace minerals by plants. Plants have an important relationship with certain fungi that can form networks covering several acres. The fungus obtains carbohydrates from the plant root, at the same time supplying the plant with nutrients it draws from the soil. This gives the plant access to a vastly greater mineral extraction system than is possible by their roots alone. Chemical fungicide sprays destroy these beneficial fungi and so again reduce the ability of plants to absorb soil minerals. Insecticides can also reduce trace mineral uptake by inactivating choline-containing enzymes in plants, essential for the absorption of manganese and other minerals.
The combined effect of soil mineral depletion and the reduced availability of those minerals that remain is that most of the food that we eat is mineral deficient.
The table summarizes the reductions in the average mineral content of 27 vegetables and 17 fruits, between 1940 and 1991. The results of the latest research are expected to show mineral values in continual decline.
Reduction in average mineral content of fruit and vegetables between 1940 and 1991 shown in graph below:
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