The UK’s Royal Society is launching a major study into human population growth and how it may affect social and economic development in coming decades.
The world’s population has risen from two billion in 1930 to 6.8 billion now, with nine billion projected by 2050.
The society acknowledges it is delving into a hugely controversial area, but says a comprehensive and scientific review of the evidence is needed.
It is led by Nobel laureate Sir John Sulston of Human Genome Project fame.
“This is a topic that has gone to and fro in the last few decades, and appears to be moving back up the political agenda now,” he told BBC News.