In 1977, plant scientist Norman Borlaug delivered a paper entitled 'The Human Population Monster'. Borlaug's fears are easily guessed from the title: he doubted that agricultural improvements would be able to keep pace with the rise in human population.
While many people regard Malthus as the economist that first put forward an argument that human populations tend, over time, to outstrip their ability to produce food, in fact there were many agriculturists debating this question at the close of the eighteenth century. This paper explores the longer history of the fear of the 'Human Population Monster', and its relationship to another monster, much feared by Borlaug, crop disease.
This event is part of a series of talks organised by the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food
- Dr John Lidwell-Durnin, Faculty of History, University of Oxford
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