While much of the world focuses its attention on oil, 1,000 people in a lab outside Manila are worrying about the other staple the modern world depends on: rice. Because of drought, floods, and overproduction, Asian rice yields are flatlining, the Journal reports; as a result, the price of the world's most eaten foodstuff has shot up 70% since 2001.
Scientists are racing to produce new drought- and flood-resistant strains in time to avoid massive shortages. In the 1960s, a new strain of rice from this lab in the Philippines triggered the "Green Revolution," enabling countries like India to develop modern economies. Now, with global warming pressuring already threatened crops, a comparable breakthrough is sorely needed.