Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Have You Seen This Ad?

By Brian Dixon

Have you seen this ad?

In DC, it’s everywhere. On the Metro trains. In the newspapers that cover Capitol Hill. In magazines. Clearly this is one company that sees population growth as good for its bottom line. More genetically modified crops means more money to Monsanto. In their view, that’s the only way we’ll be able to feed 9 billion people.

Of course, we have no idea if there will be 9 billion people in 2050, or 11 billion. Because the projection that the population will grow to 9 billion is based on the assumption that more people will use contraceptives and birth rates will continue to fall. That’s hardly a given. There’s already a serious shortfall in contraceptive supplies in the poorest countries. At least 200 million women would like to limit their childbearing, but have no access to birth control and experts predict that demand for contraceptives will increase by 40 percent in just the next fifteen years.

Unless there is significant new investment in family planning in the developing world, it’s unlikely that population will stabilize at 9 billion. Indeed, between 2006 and 2008, experts had to revise their population projections for several countries, including Kenya and Pakistan--upward.

Monsanto has one thing right. Feeding an additional 2 billion people will be difficult.

Feeding an additional 4 billion might be impossible.

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