Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Feeding the world

There's nothing new under the sun. The world's major corporations are trying to tell us that genetically modified plants, artificial fertilisers, pesticides and factory farming techniques are essential if we are to feed the world in the coming decades.

We are told that the population explosion means that we must embrace ever-more intensive practices.

Possibly one of the first population explosions experienced in our relatively modern world happened after the agrarian revolution in England.

Thomas Malthus (1766 – 1834), a British economist was the first to point out that the advent of scientific agriculture had not solved all mankind's problems, indeed it only increased them.

While new methods allowed food production to increase in arithmetical progression (where the increase is measured by addition), population increased in a geometrical progression (where the increase is measured by multiplication).

His worst predictions were realised by 1792, which was the last time there was a surplus of English wheat for export.

Ever since, Great Britain has been a food importer. Successive British governments tried to hold the empire together to ensure food security, but everyone is aware that England is an island and if anything happens to stop imports of food, the population faces starvation.

Our Australian politicians are even less bright. They don't seem to worry much about food security. Their priorities have been about fighting wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan - anywhere really. After all it's not them who put their lives on the line. 

Let's get back to the village community, where we produce what we need to support ourselves.
If you'd like to see more of Thomas Malthus' views, have a look at:

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