In 1972 the world food situation made an about‐face, turning from surpluses and low prices to relative scarcity and high prices. Those of a Malthusian persuasion judged that we had entered a period of chronic food scarcity in which demand, spurred by population growth and rising affluence, had begun to outrun the productive capacity of the world's farmers. Other, more sanguine, observers pointed out that man had thus far avoided the Malthusian specter and would somehow have the ingenuity, foresight, or luck to continue to “muddle through,” excepting, of course, the occasional national or regional famine.
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