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Malthus; Reverend Dr. Thomas

(1766-1834) An English economist who is best remembered for his theories on the future development of world population – particularly with its relationship with food.

He proposed the theory, that impressed those such as Darwin, that world population if unchecked, would increase at a geometric rate (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 etc.) whereas food production would only grow at an arithmetic rate (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

He believed that if events developed naturally, this would lead to the eventual lack of food in the world's poorest areas – thus providing a natural 'cap' on the total population.

Although Malthus's theories have been out of favour for many years, those endorsing GM crops have picked them up and are using them to promote their products.

At the present time, it's thought by many that using natural methods, the world can produce enough food to feed 20 billion people (some think 30 billion), but that by using GM crops (many of which can be developed to be extremely drought tolerant) – Africa, now largely uncultivated, could be put under the plough, and the problem solved.

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