Trends in the food nitrogen and phosphorus footprints for China, India, and Japan

Abstract The environmental damage resulting from the loss of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) input during food production to the environment is significant. We developed a common framework to allow a comparative evaluation of nutrient footprints and applied it to the N and P footprints for China, India, and Japan from 1961 to 2013. The footprints increased remarkably in China after 1976. In India, the footprints gradually increased since 1976. In Japan, the footprints greatly increased until 1993 before slightly declining. Since the key items differ from country to country, the counter measures adopted should reflect these differences.

With the growth in global population and the growing preference for animal-based food, the demand for nutrient input during food production is also rising. Alarmingly, much of the input is lost from these processes, polluting the environment. To efficiently manage nutrients from the production and consumption side, the N and P footprints must be considered together using a common framework for each food item. In this study, we developed a bottom-up methodology and asssessed changes in the food N and P footprints of China, India, and Japan from 1961 to 2013.