National Geographic : 1998 Oct
the billions who will be born in the future? proportions." The population was about 3.5 billion, which Ehrlich believed was the limit. Feeding six billion people, he wrote in 1976, "is totally impossible in practice." Next year the world's population will reach six billion-and human beings overall are better fed than ever before. Thirty years ago, according to the United Nations, the global food supply represented 2,360 calories per person per day. By the mid-1990s total food supply had increased to 2,740 calories per person per day. Supply will continue to grow faster than population at least through 2010, the UN predicts. The big jump in population in the second half of this century has created much greater demand for food. But supply has increased even faster than demand, and the price of staple foods has fallen dramatically. Over the past 40 years the price of wheat, in constant dollars, has declined by 61 percent; the price of corn has dropped 58 percent. A hot meal means little more than bread for migrant workers in India. Though farms worldwide produce enough to feed everyone, hundreds of millions cannot afford a balanced diet. With greater numbers competing for food in the future, rising prices may leave many more hungry.