In the time of Malthus at the end of the 18th century, global population was about 1 billion. By 1960 it had reached 3bn, in 1987 5bn. Another billion was added in the next 12 years and the total is nearing 7 billion now. It is something of a miracle that, outside war zones, virtually all the world’s people are still being fed.
The 7 fold increase in population since 1800 has of course required a 7 fold increase in food production. It has been achieved by scientific cross breeding of plants and animals to achieve higher yields, increasingly intensive agriculture with more mechanisation and high energy use, and heavy use of agro-chemicals, i.e. fertiliser, fungicide, pesticide and herbicide. The consequences have included pollution of some watercourses and water supply aquifers, loss of wildlife and worries about food safety.