The Malthus Gun

Somewhere between the Green Revolution and the biotechnology revolution, the developed world seems to have declared the battle for food security won and moved on. Citizens of many developed countries have grown nostalgic, convinced that organic farming produces nutritionally superior food (it doesn’t) and can solve the world’s food problems (it can’t).

WASHINGTON, DC – Science and technology changed agriculture profoundly in the twentieth century. Today, much of the developed world’s agriculture is a large-scale enterprise: mechanized, computer-controlled, and based on sophisticated use of chemistry and knowledge of plant and soil physiology. amp#160;

The invention of chemical fertilizers early in the century and their increasing use, together with mechanization and the development of high-yielding grain varieties, propelled the growth of agricultural productivity in the developed world. The Green Revolution brought these benefits to less developed nations.amp#160;

As a result, despite a tripling of the global population, we have so far evaded Malthus’ 1798 prediction that human population growth would inevitably outstrip our ability to produce food. Over the second half of the twentieth century, the hungry of the Earth shrank from half of its three billion human inhabitants to less than a billion of the current 6.5 billion.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

http://prosyn.org/ElEbg1T;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.