Agriculture is useless as a response to famine. You can no more respond to famine by planting a crop than you can respond to falling out of an airplane by knitting a parachute. But this really misses the point.

To say that agriculture was developed as a response to famine is like saying that cigarette smoking was developed as a response to lung cancer. Agriculture doesn’t cure famine, it promotes famine—it creates the conditions in which famines occur. Agriculture makes it possible for more people to live in an area than that area can support—and that’s exactly where famines occur.

For example, agriculture made it possible for many populations of Africa to outstrip their homelands’ resources­­­—and that’s why these populations are now starving.

ID: 25
posted: 1997
UPDATE: April 2, 2002