Myth: Too Many Mouths to Feed

With kind permission from Peter Rosset of the Institute for Food and Development Policy (or as it is also known), chapter 3 of World Hunger: 12 Myths, 2nd Edition, by Frances Moore Lappé, Joseph Collins and Peter Rosset, with Luis Esparza (fully revised and updated, Grove/Atlantic and Food First Books, Oct. 1998) has been reproduced and posted here. Due to the length of the chapter, it has been split into sub pages on this site.

Myth 3: Too Many Mouths to Feed

MYTH: Hunger is caused by too many people pressing against finite resources. We must slow population growth before we can hope to alleviate hunger.

OUR RESPONSE: In all of our educational efforts during the past twenty-five years, no question has been more common than Do too many people cause hunger? We've answered no, but in the eyes of some this is tantamount to irresponsibly dismissing population growth as a problem.

We do not take lightly the prospect of human numbers so dominating the planet that other forms of life are squeezed out, that all wilderness is subdued for human use, and that the mere struggle to feed and warm ourselves keeps us from more satisfying pursuits.

The question of population is so vital that we can't afford to be the least bit fuzzy in our thinking. So here we will focus on the three most critical questions this myth poses. Is the human population of the world growing "out of control"? Are population density and population growth the cause of hunger? And what is the nature of the link, if any, between slowing population growth and ending hunger?

[The remainder of this chapter is split into the sections listed below]

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