That’s a tough question to answer, partially because it’s not a direct comparison, and partially because not enough is known about the exact effects of the hormones. Artificial growth hormones in foods don’t directly kill people the way starvation would, but there is suspicion that they could be linked to several types of cancer. In addition, growth hormones in the environment can disrupt ecosystems–particularly aquatic ones, and it’s difficult to say what effect that might have on the overall food chain. Feeding more people is a justification for using them, along with making the process more profitable for the people producing meat, but the truth is we really don’t know exactly what side effects the process has or how bad the consequences could potentially be.
I agree that this is a tricky question, and it is partly because you are assuming that just because we create more food, the starving will be fed. We have a lot of excess food (in the U.S.) that is thrown away each day that could feed the starving right now. In addition, without money, the starving wouldn’t get any of the excess food anyway. However, all that aside, if we could feed thousands of starving people with our mass-produced and questionable foods, you could make an argument in its favor. (That is if you don’t take the cruelty towards the animals in question into account.)
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