The global agriculture system faces a rapidly growing challenge: in the coming decades it must feed a substantially larger population amidst an increasingly volatile and shifting climate. Already, global food systems are being affected by extreme weather events, including historic droughts, which are leading to higher food prices and greater food insecurity. The negative impacts of global climate change on agriculture are only expected to get worse. Ensuring an expanding, stable, and secure food supply capable of meeting the challenges of climate change requires more resilient crops and agricultural production systems than we currently possess in today’s world. This is without a doubt the chief agricultural challenge of our time.
Unfortunately, agricultural resilience policies are plagued by an inadequate paradigm that places undue confidence in the sufficiency of existing technologies to meet new challenges, and a fear of the uncertainty surrounding new technologies. Some have argued that existing technologies are adequate to face the challenge if uniformly diffused and applied, and if global socioeconomic obstacles like poverty are overcome. To be sure, diffusing the best available technologies is important, and the socioeconomic challenges we face are significant. Efforts to deal with them should be encouraged and expedited. But even in the most ideal circumstances, diffusing existing agricultural technologies and practices is not enough to address the challenges we will face in the coming decades.
In light of this, we propose several solutions. In particular, we argue that the critical, game-changing solutions for building global agricultural resilience will come only from expanding the innovation and adoption of next-generation crops and agricultural practices. We need new and improved crop varieties that use less water, deliver increased yields and improve