Population and Feeding the World
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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.
Last updated Saturday, August 25, 2001.
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.
Posted Saturday, December 02, 2000.
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.
Last updated Monday, December 04, 2000.
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.
This article has the following parts:
- Population and Feeding the World
- Land Rights
- Myth: Too Many Mouths to Feed
- Is population growth out of control?
- The demographic transition
- Does "Overpopulation" cause hunger?
- Poverty and population growth: lessons from our own past
- Good and bad fertility decline
- But we don’t have time
- Upping the ante
- China’s Solution?
- The challenge ahead
- Notes and sources for “Myth: Too Many Mouths to Feed”
- Links for More Information on Feeding the World
(Note that listed here are only those hyperlinks to other articles from other web sites or elsewhere on this web site. Other sources such as journal, books and magazines, are mentioned above in the original text. Please also note that links to external sites are beyond my control. They might become unavailable temporarily or permanently since you read this, depending on the policies of those sites, which I cannot unfortunately do anything about.)
- Global Issues: “Genetically Engineered Food”, Last updated: Thursday, September 26, 2002, https://www.globalissues.org/issue/188/genetically-engineered-food
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