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JSPES, Vol. 39, No. 2 (Summer 2014)
pp. 166 –185

Is a Haber-Bosch World Sustainable? Population, Nutrition, Cereals, Nitrogen and Environment

Bernard Gilland

A satisfactory national average food supply can be defined as 2750 kilocalories food energy per capita per day, including 40 g animal protein, which corresponds to approx. 650 kilocalories food of animal origin. The food supply in all African and many Asian and Latin American countries does not meet these criteria. Population growth makes food production increase necessary; economic growth increases demand for animal products and livestock feed. As further increase of the harvested area is ecologically undesirable, it is necessary to increase crop yields; this requires, inter alia, more nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilizer, despite the environmental problems which this would exacerbate. It is probable that a satisfactory food supply and an environmentally benign agriculture worldwide cannot be achieved without reducing population to less than three billion. The UN “Low” population projection shows that this reduction could be achieved about 200 years from now.