Population and Food: Global Trends and Future Prospects

Population and Food: Global Trends and Future Prospects

Population and Food: Global Trends and Future Prospects

Population and Food: Global Trends and Future Prospects

Synopsis

The book suggests that food production in most world regions has kept ahead of population growth, that future food production prospects are encouraging, and that probably the people of the world will be better fed in the 21st than in the 20th century.

Excerpt

Food not only constitutes the principal part of the riches of the world, but it is the abundance of food which gives the principal part of their value to many other sorts of riches.

(Adam Smith, 1776, pp. 218-19)

In order to know anything it is necessary to know everything, but in order to talk about anything it is necessary to neglect a great deal.

(Joan Robinson, 1941, p. 8)

I must be a little crazy to have written this book. The subject is so large. But in the early 1990s I read a claim that the world's population was growing faster than the production of grain and, more striking still, that population growth was now outpacing grain production in each major geographical region. These statements have been followed by other disturbing assertions-for example, that growth in the average world grain yield is now dramatically slowing down. And in the mid-1990s there is certainly no shortage of writers who argue that humanity will soon face really colossal food problems. This dire perspective is sometimes termed 'neoMalthusian', because in its emphasis on hunger, starvation and famine it echoes themes popularized by Thomas Robert Malthus' polemical essay of 1798.

The writings of Lester R. Brown are particularly prominent on these issues. See, for example, Brown (1991, pp. 11-15; 1994a, pp. 177-87) and Brown and Kane (1995, especially chs 2 and 10).

The full title of this book, which achieved immediate notoriety, is An Essay on the Principle of Population as it Affects the Future Improvement of Society with Remarks on the Speculations of Mr. Godwin, M. Condorcet, and Other Writers. See Malthus (1798).

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