A double-edged sword for tropical forests

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Science  03 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6205, pp. 38-40
DOI: 10.1126/science.1256685

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With a growing global population and increasing per capita consumption, reconciling agricultural production with biodiversity conservation is a major challenge to humanity (1). A frequently promoted solution to stem the tide of agricultural expansion is to increase crop yields, allowing global demand to be met without further tropical forest losses. Recent genome sequencing of key crops such as oil palm, eucalyptus, rubber, soybean, rice, and cocoa could facilitate substantial yield increases (24). Could such yield improvements offer a solution to both tropical forest loss and agricultural demand, or could they pose further challenges to tropical conservation?