2023 Frank Is India’s largest fertilizer manufacturer misleading farmers and society using dubious plant and soil science

NU is a novel N fertilizer recently marketed by India’s largest fertilizer manufacturer (IFFCO) in a way that suggests its effect and sustainability have been scientifically proven. We challenge this presentation by questioning and comparing the claims with the existing scientific literature from well-reputed journals. We conclude, that NU is a scarcely characterized product with no or poor scientifically proven effects. The product is promoted with misleading and wrong statements about its efficiency as a fertilizer, plant uptake path-ways, and environmental friendliness. With the doubts about the effect of NU in mind, the price of the product seems excessively high. Reported economic benefits for farmers applying NU suffer from the absence of a solid basis for the calculations. We do not stand alone with these doubts (Saklani et al. 2022), and some critical voices have recently been raised in India as well, Plant Soil i.e. by N.K. Tomar (retired professor of soil science at CCS Haryana Agricultural University, India). As IFFCO aims at an expansive and large scale production, there are several serious risks associated to these# commercial ambitions: Large scale yield and economic losses to farmers, food insecurity, environmental risks, social disruption and conflicts. Politics and commercial incentives might interfere with the independence of the scientists involved. We acknowledge the great benefit that nanofertilizers potentially may have, but seriously doubt the positive impact of NU for farmers, societies and the environment as it stands right now. We emphasize that independent bodies should follow a consistent framework to verify whether novel fertilizer products have indeed beneficial effects for crop growth and yield prior to marketing and applying them widely. Finally, it appears that peer review of many papers within the area of nanofertilization is of insufficient quality as the fundamental lacks described above should prevent publication in any well reputed scientific journals.

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