Friday, December 21, 2007
Every year the issue of "overpopulation" comes up in my classroom. Lots still believe in the "too many mouths to feed" arguement about poverty and malnutrition. I remember reading Food First's Diet for a Small Planet years ago and the arguements are as pescient today as ever. Check out 12 myths about hunger.
Too Many People
Reality: Birth rates are falling rapidly worldwide as remaining regions of the Third World begin the demographic transition - when birth rates drop in response to an earlier decline in death rates. Although rapid population growth remains a serious concern in many countries, nowhere does population density explain hunger. For every Bangladesh, a densely populated and hungry country, we find a Nigeria, Brazil or Bolivia, where abundant food resources coexist with hunger. Or we find a country like the Netherlands, where very little land per person has not prevented it from eliminating hunger and becoming a net exporter of food. Rapid population growth is not the root cause of hunger. Like hunger itself, it results from underlying inequities that deprive people, especially poor women, of economic opportunity and security. Rapid population growth and hunger are endemic to societies where land ownership, jobs, education, health care, and old age security are beyond the reach of most people. Those Third World societies with dramatically successful early and rapid reductions of population growth rates - China, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Cuba and the Indian state of Kerala - prove that the lives of the poor, especially poor women, must improve before they can choose to have fewer children.