Myths and Facts
About the Environment --
Part V: Human Population and
Food Production

Myth: Human population is growing uncontrollably, with little chance of slowing down.

Fact: Birth rates have dropped dramatically over the past 25 years. In East Asia, births per woman have declined from 6.1 during the 1960-65 period to 2.7 during 1985-1990. In Latin America, births dropped from 5.9 per woman to 3.6 over the same period. For all Third World nations, births have dropped from 6.1 to 3.9 per woman.

Myth: Pesticides and chemical fertilizers utilized by modern agriculture present a threat to public health.

Fact: Pesticide residues on food are well below the levels established as safe by the FDA. Dr. Robert Scheulpein, a respected food-safety microbiologist with the FDA, calculated the effective risk of cancer from pesticide residues to be 0.0000076.

Myth: Famine results from an inadequate supply of food.

Fact: Since the end of World War II, worldwide grain production has tripled while world population has only doubled. Modern agriculture currently produces sufficient food to feed the world population and has the potential to produce far more food than we need. Famine is caused by poor governments, unwise economic policies, inadequate transportation systems, and warfare.

Myth: Modern farming techniques have intensified soil erosion.

Fact: New no-till and conservation tillage techniques have cut back soil erosion by more than 50%. Many remember the "Dust Bowl" in the Midwest during the heat and drought of the 1930s. Similar climatic conditions were present in the late 1980s, but similar Dust Bowls did not occur thanks to modern farming techniques.

Information from Environmental Overkill by Dixy Lee Ray (Regnery Gateway, 1993); Trashing the Planet by Dixy Lee Ray (Regnery Gateway, 1990).

Issue Date: August 20, 1996

Talking Points on the Economy: Environment #26, published by The National Center for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Ct NE, Washington, D.C. 20002 Tel. (202) 543-4110, Fax (202)543-5975, [email protected], http://www.nationalcenter/

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