The Gulf "Dead Zone," an oxygen-starved region in the Gulf of Mexico that recurs annually, has appeared early this year, and could be growing. The Dead Zone is caused by agricultural waste that empties into the Gulf from rivers, primarily the Mississippi. The waste, mostly phosphorus and nitrogen from fertilizer runoff and animal manure, feeds vast algae and plankton "blooms" that soak up oxygen and make the region uninhabitable for most marine life, including fish, shrimp, and crabs. According to one scientist, "Hypoxia [oxygen starvation in water] is the result of living in an over-fertilized society." Runoff and waste from corporate hog, chicken, and cattle farms have dramatically increased in recent years, clogging the nation's waterways and contributing to the Dead Zone's expansion.

The Dead Zone is affecting Gulf coast fisheries. Oyster beds and about half the shellfish-producing areas along the Gulf coast have been closed by officials because of contamination. Another scientist has written that, "If nutrient pollution is not greatly reduced, fish and shellfish may someday be permanently replaced by anaerobic bacteria." Yummy.