OFC 2011: World's population in need of control
IT is inevitable the World population will reach nine billion, barring disaster, and one expert told the Oxford Farming Conference that there was too much ‘pussyfooting’ round the issue and that it had to be talked about.
“People don’t like talking about population control, but we have to,” said Professor Aubrey Manning of Edinburgh University. Reassuring the audience that he wasn’t ‘advocating a cull’, he added that the increasing population would add to food issues as 1bn people – about one sixth of people – are already underfed.
“The challenge is absolutely huge – we are adding 200,000 people to the World population every day.
“The immediate problem is how we increase food production. Food prices will rise, and while Europe is well placed for food production, it can’t sit back. It may be difficult for the UK to do more, but countries such as Romania and Poland have a lot of potential to increase production.”
For the longer term, he said economists needed to be less obsessed with increasing birth rates. “Economists always want more young people – it is like some sort of religious faith we culturally subscribe to.
“We need to have some biological input into this. There are constraints and eventually we will have to go for an economy of stock. We all need food, always – it is not something we grow out of, it is not a fad.”
Prof Manning said to meet the challenges, farmers would need to ensure their farms were ‘in as good heart as possible’ and that they could produce maximum yields without high levels of inputs – keeping science at the forefront.