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Population, consumption, and entrapment

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 29 April 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1207

Raise living standards to reduce population growth

  1. Giuseppe Benagiano, director general,
  2. Michele Ermini, associate professor, obstetrics and gynaecology
  1. Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Rome, Italy
  2. University of Rome (la Sapienza), Viale del Policlinico 155, 00161 Rome
  3. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University College London Medical School, London W1P ILB

    EDITOR—The BMJ marked the passing of the 6 billion mark of the globe's population with a series of articles over which Maurice King cast his shadow.1 In his article King raised the spectre of an international conspiracy led by the United States which is aimed at preventing free discussion of the possibility that certain countries in the developing world may have become entrapped.2 To King, entrapment occurs when a population exceeds the carrying capacity of its ecosystem and is unable to buy in extra food or to migrate elsewhere. Personally, we do not believe in this conspiracy theory and find it significant that, in moving along this path, King has been abandoned even by Charles Elliott, his coauthor for previous articles.3

    King's argument has for years been predicated on the idea that entrapment exists in Africa and Asia on a large scale and that therefore a policy of one child for each family must be widely adopted.4 Assuming that his diagnosis is correct, King fails to explain how he plans to achieve such drastic measures in countries where …

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