Population and Feeding the World

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  • by Anup Shah
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"World hunger is extensive in spite of sufficient global food resources. Therefore increased food production is no solution. The problem is that many people are too poor to buy readily available food. Therefore measures solving the poverty problem is what is required to solve the world hunger problem"

It is a myth that world hunger is due to scarcity of food1

The food scarcity part of the argument in the population debate is an interesting one—people are hungry because they cannot afford food, not because the population is growing so fast that food is becoming scarce.

As discussed further in the Genetically Engineered Food2 section of this web site, international trade and economic policies that have lead to immense poverty and hunger, not food scarcity due to over population. In other words, this is a political problem, not necessarily a shortage problem.

Oftentimes, people make the argument that population increases increases the lack of food or ability to provide enough food to sustain such growth. However, for many decades food production has more than kept up with population growth. As Greenpeace has noted, most hungry people live in countries that have food surpluses rather than deficits3.

When weighing the impacts on demands by populations versus the way large chemical companies and industrial agricultural businesses promote certain types of agricultural practices, and the serious threat of top soil loss (which will affect yields in the future, where large populations could feel an additional burden), it is less certain that populations and over population is the main cause.

0 articles on “Population and Feeding the World” and 3 related issues:

Human Population

Read “Human Population” to learn more.

Food and Agriculture Issues

Food and agriculture goes to the heart of our civilizations. Religions, cultures and even modern civilization have food and agriculture at their core. For an issue that goes to the heart of humanity it also has its ugly side.

This issue explores topics ranging from the global food crisis of 2008, to issues of food aid, world hunger, food dumping and wasteful agriculture such as growing tobacco, sugar, beef, and more.

Read “Food and Agriculture Issues” to learn more.

World Hunger and Poverty

Meaningful long-term alleviation of hunger is rooted in the alleviation of poverty, as poverty leads to hunger. World hunger is a terrible symptom of world poverty. If efforts are only directed at providing food, or improving food production or distribution, then the structural root causes that create hunger, poverty and dependency would still remain. While resources and energies are deployed to relieve hunger through technical measures such as improving agriculture, and as important as these are, inter-related issues such as poverty means that political solutions are likely required as well for meaningful and long term hunger alleviation.

Read “World Hunger and Poverty” to learn more.

Land Rights

One important aspect about the causes of hunger is often ignored; that is, land ownership and who controls the land. Throughout history, this has been an important part of power struggles and one of the major causes of poverty (and therefore, hunger).

Read “Land Rights” to learn more.

Myth: Too Many Mouths to Feed

With kind permission from Peter Rosset of the Institute for Food and Development Policy (or FoodFirst.org 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 posted here. It describes in details the issue of population and hunger.

Read “Myth: Too Many Mouths to Feed” to learn more.

Links for More Information on Feeding the World

This issue is related to many others presented on this web site, such as poverty and hunger, the disastrous effects of food aid in non-emergency scenarios and the promise of benefits to solving hunger via genetically engineered food.

Read “Links for More Information on Feeding the World” to learn more.

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  • by Anup Shah
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