PerspectivePlant Science

Making Hunger Yield

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Science  16 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6185, pp. 699-700
DOI: 10.1126/science.1254135

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The human population reached 1 billion in the early 1800s, roughly 12,000 years after the dawn of agriculture. However, exponential growth in the ensuing 200 years resulted in the global population exceeding 7 billion, placing enormous demands on modern agriculture. Over the past half-century, the human population has doubled but food production has more than kept pace, and the fraction of people with insufficient food has declined dramatically, from 60% in 1960 to about 15% in 2010 (1), Nonetheless, ∼1 billion people remain chronically underfed and another ∼2 billion suffer from micronutrient deficiencies (1, 2). It is imperative, then, to accelerate increases in agricultural production.