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In response to the excellent editorial “The Future in the Nutshell” by Roger Snodgrass, I would like to add the following. Of all human activities, agriculture uses the most labor (about 10 percent of 6.7 billion people worldwide), uses the most land (more than 4 billion acres) and uses the most fresh water (more than 70 percent of human consumption).
Food security is as important as economic, energy and military security. After 10,000 years of cultivating land to produce food, we still have not found a substitute for photosynthesis, and have not been able to increase food production efficiency (photosynthesis of CO2 and water to starches and sugars) above a few tenths of 1 percent.
Food security depends on availability of arable land and fresh water, both of which are in short supply and threatened by climate change. Why can’t LANL’s new Roadrunner supercomputer devote a few minutes of petaflop time to design some plant DNAs for food crops that are twice as efficient, use half the land and use half as much water as present crops?