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World population hits 7 billion, but there are easy ways to curb growth

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We may also be approaching limits to economic growth. In the 12 years since we reached the 6 billion mark, oil prices have soared from just over $10 a barrel to nearly $100 a barrel today. Also, the price of grains and other basic foodstuffs have more than doubled in the past seven years, contributing to major setbacks in the fights against hunger and severe poverty. With nearly 1 billion hungry people in the world, fears grow that food production may not be able to keep pace with projected population growth.

The Food and Agriculture Organization says that food production in developing countries will have to double in the next 39 years to keep pace with population. To do that, farmers in those countries will have to overcome several hurdles, including the rising costs of fuel and fertilizer, hotter temperatures, more record flooding and drought, the loss of top soil, and the competition for arable land from urbanization and biofuels.

But we're not doomed. And here’s why.

It doesn’t cost trillions of dollars to expand family planning options for women in developing countries. The UN estimates that there are 215 million women in the developing world who want to avoid a pregnancy, but who are not using a modern method of birth control. The UN estimates that providing them with access to contraceptives would cost $3.5 billion additionally a year, a fraction of the $125 billion that the US and other donor nations spend annually on aid to developing nations.

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