Science: Searching for Superplants

"Plants are beautifully designed for reproduction," says Richard Mahoney, "but their efficiency as providers of food is just lousy. They never had any intention of feeding humanity." Yet Mahoney, chief of Monsanto Co.'s agricultural products division, and other plant biologists around the globe are all too aware that the world's burgeoning population is ultimately dependent on plants for food. Their solution: to lend nature a hand by 1) finding or creating new plants that yield more food faster, harvest easier and better resist insects, diseases and climatic extremes or 2) by manipulating...

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