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World Agricultural Output Continues to Rise, Despite Predictions of Decline

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The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that world rice harvests for 2012/2013 were a record 469 million metric tons. Corn and wheat harvests were also strong, following record harvests for both grains during the 2011/2012 season. The USDA is now projecting world record harvests for corn, wheat, and rice for 2013/2014.

These numbers cap a 50-year trend of remarkable growth in world grain production. Since 1960, global wheat and rice production has tripled, and corn production is almost five times higher.
For decades, doomsayers predicted that food production would fail to keep up with the needs of humanity. In 1972, Donella Meadows and others of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published The Limits to Growth, which asked the question, “Do these rather dismal statistics mean that the limits of food production on the earth have already been reached?” Paul Ehrlich wrote in The End of Affluence in 1974, “Due to a combination of ignorance, greed and callousness, a situation has been created that could lead to a billion or more people starving to death.”
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