Human Population Numbers as a Function of Food Supply

  • Russell HopfenbergEmail author
  • David Pimentel


Human population growth has typically been seen as the primary causative factor of other ecologically destructive phenomena. Current human disease epidemics are explored as a function of population size. That human population growth is itself a phenomenon with clearly identifiable ecological/biological causes has been overlooked. Here, human population growth is discussed as being subject to the same dynamic processes as the population growth of other species. Contrary to the widely held belief that food production must be increased to feed the growing population, experimental and correlational data indicate that human population growth varies as a function of food availability. By increasing food production for humans, at the expense of other species, the biologically determined effect has been, and continues to be, an increase in the human population. Understanding the relationship between food increases and population increases is proposed as a necessary first step in addressing this global problem. Resistance to this perspective is briefly discussed in terms of cultural bias in science.

disease(s) food, food availability food production human population population growth 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Duke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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