How do farm critics propose to feed 7.7 billion–and more?

  • July 29, 2019

Counterpunch news website addresses one of the most important issues that everyone needs to face: how do we feed the 7.7 billion precious lives now on earth. And how will be feed the 10 billion expected in 30 years?

It is easy for the growing number of farm critics –– vegans, animal rights activists, environmental activists, farm worker unions, and many more –– to say how farming needs to change. We don’t hear reasonable solutions to a terribly difficult and complex problem. This article provides a historical perspective that needs to be considered as we face a potentially very hungry future:

In the 1960s, alarm spread that the manswarm was exceeding the food supply, and famines were likely. Stanford professor Paul Erlich wrote a 1968 book, The Population Bomb, warning that mass starvation seemed certain in the 1970s. Church groups held public discussions of the impending crisis. Erlich wrote:

“The battle to feed all of humanity is over…. In the 1970s and 1980s, hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”

But, out of the spotlight, Norman Bourlag had unleashed the Green Revolution in Mexico, Pakistan and India, using high-yield crops and heavy fertilization. Massive food increases resulted. His technique spread around the world. Bourlag got the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. He was credited with saving a billion lives.

Yet the population upsurge didn’t stop. Before he died in 2009, Bourlag said his Green Revolution had peaked and couldn’t keep up with the worsening need.

The author concludes:

So, what’s the future regarding hunger? I’m an ardent believer in science. I hope that genetic engineering will make breakthrough after breakthrough, producing ever-better plants and animals to feed humans.