Could Malthus have been wrong?

New Scientist reports on two studies released last week that seem to indicate that the real problem in human population isn't really overpopulation and overuse of the world's resources- but rather mere politics. The two studies, commissioned during last year's incredible world wide inflation in food prices, show that certain areas of the world are extremely underdeveloped. For instance: 400 million hectares of Africa alone could double the world's current food production- feeding everybody- but development of the Guinea Savanah is currently hampered by 25 different countries having jurisdiction, including well known trouble spots such as Sudan and Nigeria.

The OECD is even more hopeful as they report 1.6 billion hectares of new development, mainly in Africa and S. America, could be brought into production with modern climate & agricultural science, though they warn that global climate change is a significant issue.

Both, though, seem to agree that the real key is localization. Not huge world-spanning corporations, but small community family farmers, taught the new methods, will guarantee that the riches of these areas will reach the inhabitants of these areas. And the key to small family farmers always has been, and always will be, preferential access to local markets. Without political stability in these regions, however, and with constant interference from better-developed economies, though, this dream seems impossible. But it's nice to know that it is only politically impossible, rather than physically beyond the means of the planet to carry a human race of 15 to 20 billion.

Could Malthus have been wrong, and could advancing sustainable agriculture technology really be keeping up with our population as a species?

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Comments

GMO foods

Right, there are assuredly too many people. Perhaps you linked to some Monstano research, trying to promote more GMO Foods? Check the background of these, Monsanto is everywhere trying to get their patented seeds to supplant the world.

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Neither of the two studies I linked to was Monsanto

Nope, sorry. The first study I linked to was from the FAO- the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, not industry funded in any way. The second was the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which is a G7 committee. Both are GOVERNMENT funded, not industry funded.

Secondly, your assertion " there are assuredly too many people" is shown to be false by these two studies. The problem isn't "too many people" it is, just as it is in our own economy, a small minority of elites being greedy and interfering with resource allocation for their own greed.

Thirdly, if you look at the FAO study, you'll see that they specifically claim that GMO foods are a part of what is harming development of Africa; they recommend seed saving and small-scale farming instead as the proven best way to develop the Guinea Savannah- especially in light of monoculture problems with GMO plants.

You're always saying not to post Economic Fiction. Well, overpopulation is Economic Fiction, according to these two studies- an economic theory held to by people who don't understand the math.

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Maximum jobs, not maximum profits.

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Maximum jobs, not maximum profits.

Seebert

No, sorry, overpopulation goes into a host of other issues, from resources, to labor supply to infrastructure, to pollution, it's not just "food".

I'm getting very tired of you trying to shove your Catholic beliefs onto an economics site.

Monsanto likes to sponsor reports to push GMO agenda, through all sorts of other organizations and "independent" studies.

If a report came out about increased agriculture production and isn't pushing GMO foods, that's fine but to try to claim that somehow jumps the fence and concludes some religious edict is false.

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OECD - a valid source!!!!!

"So you're now claiming that the FAO and the OECD is Catholic because they challenge your religious belief in Malthusian economics?"

The OECD is the administrative or PR arm for the WTO - geez, I thought everyone realized that!

Get serious. Anything the OECD says is ALWAYS suspect - with the exception of stating that OECD countries' wages have fallen since they joined that group.

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I noticed that

when I used some of their data recently, they magically left out India and China on a host of statistics to make it seem like emerging economies were suffering in the global malaise and it of course biased the global stats which were released in press statements. I hadn't noticed such bias but with that last use of their statistics, I have to wonder how right you are on them as objective.

The problem with this post, Seebert is a long history of attempting to push fundamentalist religious views onto an economics site and I must have given over 50 warnings on this to the point it's thoroughly irritating. EP just ain't a religion site. Leave the holy water at the door is made most clear in the rules.

So, I view this latest post as your classic "oh there isn't a problem with population, which if gone unchecked would lead to.... "therefore women should be forced to bring fetuses to term, denied rights to their bodies, therefore birth control isn't needed...." i.e. not an economics topic but yet another attempt to push the dogma of the Catholic church on to EP.

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