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DEVELOPMENT FORUM. 1992 May-Jun; 20(3):12.Contrary to recent press reports, the issue of population growth has taken center stage in the negotiations preceding the Rio Earth Summit. While the press has reported that population issues have not been addressed, the North and South have disputed the related issues of population growth and consumption, and supporters and opponents of family planning have clashed over that issue. There is little question that the issue of population falls squarely into the summit's agenda. Northern countries have embraced the idea that sustainable development will require developing countries to make slow growth an urgent priority. Currently, 90% of world population growth is taking place in the poorer countries, and this growth is affecting the environment. But while developing countries have come to accept population as part of the environmental equation, they also argue that 80% of the world's resources are being consumed by only 20% of its people. Few in the North have acknowledged the impact of their wasteful consumption and production patterns on the environment. During the negotiation phase, the US delegation declared that US lifestyles were not negotiable. Another population issue that has attracted debate is family planning. Some delegations have objected to language calling for the universal access to family planning services or, as is the case with the Holy See delegation, to specific references to contraception. Also concerning population, representatives from nongovernmental organizations have raised related issues such as poverty and women's rights.