Phosphorus is an element that has significant interdependence with global food security. It is essential for plant growth, and the demand for phosphorus from fossil resources has grown rapidly in the last 100 years. A factor that makes phosphorus important in global environmental terms is the impact of increased phosphorus use on downstream environments due to eutrophication of waterways. Growth in global per capita demand for phosphorus has been stimulated by global changes in diet with increased consumption of animal products. Prior to 2008 environmental and regulatory concerns about phosphorus principally arose because of the eutrophication of lakes and water bodies. The spatial pattern of global consumption of phosphorus fertiliser has changed dramatically over the last 40 years. Worldwide, the distribution of phosphorus in soils is uneven, with strong surpluses in Europe and parts of the US, and significant underlying deficits in other regions—particularly Sub-Saharan Africa—with older, weathered soils and less historical application of chemical fertilisers.