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Volume 478 Issue 7369, 20 October 2011

In the coming years, continued population growth, rising incomes, increasing meat and dairy consumption and expanding biofuel use will place unprecedented demands on the world's agriculture and natural resources. With that backdrop, can we meet society’s growing food needs while reducing agriculture's environmental harm? In an Analysis feature in this issue, an international team of environmental and agricultural scientists answers the question in the affirmative — but it will not be easy. Using new geospatial data and models, they evaluate how new approaches to agriculture could benefit both food production and environmental sustainability. They identify four strategies that could double food production while reducing environmental impacts. First, halt agricultural expansion. Second, close 'yield gaps' on underperforming lands. Third, increase cropping efficiency. And finally, we need to change our diets and shift crop production away from livestock feed, bioenergy crops and other non-food applications. (Cover: Image Source/Getty)


  • Editorial |

    Political maps that seek to advance disputed territorial claims have no place in scientific papers. Researchers should keep relationships cordial by depoliticizing their work.

  • Editorial |

    Science lobbyists must boost the appeal of research to policy-makers.

  • Editorial |

    The US government must take a firm stance on whether prostate-cancer screening is justified.

World View

  • World View |

    A decade on from a landmark genetic-sequencing study, promised progress on typhoid fever has not materialized, says Stephen Baker.

    • Stephen Baker

Research Highlights

Seven Days

  • Seven Days |

    The week in science: stem-cell patents barred in Europe; Australia set for carbon tax; and full test of Indian Ocean tsunami warning system.



News Feature


  • Comment |

    We are getting smarter, and as a result the world is becoming a more peaceful place, says Steven Pinker.

    • Steven Pinker
  • Comment |

    Proposed rules to protect research subjects will impede progress, say Krishanu Saha and J. Benjamin Hurlbut. Instead, give donors more say in how samples are used.

    • Krishanu Saha
    • J. Benjamin Hurlbut

Autumn Books

  • Autumn Books |

    Stuart West is inspired by Robert Trivers' evolutionary argument that self-deception is crucial to deceiving others effectively.

    • Stuart West
  • Autumn Books |

    The struggle to find a theory of the weak nuclear force reveals intriguing personalities, finds Edwin Cartlidge.

    • Edwin Cartlidge
  • Autumn Books |

    Highlights from this season's releases

  • Autumn Books |

    John Gilbey savours a fast-paced technological thriller based at the intersection of the real world and the cyber-universe.

    • John Gilbey
  • Autumn Books |

    W. F. Bynum applauds the life of a great educator who fought for parental choice.

    • W. F. Bynum
  • Autumn Books |

    Edward C. Holmes welcomes a robust account of how viruses emerge and how pandemics can be prevented.

    • Edward C. Holmes
  • Autumn Books |

    Chris Lintott assesses an idea that unites individual scientific expertise with collective intelligence.

    • Chris Lintott
  • Autumn Books |

    Jacek Debiec enjoys two complementary books charting the psychology and neuroscience of decision-making.

    • Jacek Debiec



News & Views

  • News & Views |

    An analysis of neutrino data suggests that there may be additional types of neutrinos beyond the three currently known. If confirmed, the existence of these additional particles could have an impact on astrophysics and cosmology.

    • William C. Louis
  • News & Views |

    Skin-cancer stem cells secrete a factor that organizes a blood-supply system to fuel tumour growth. But the same factor has another sinister function — it stimulates the stem cells to propagate uncontrollably. See Letter p.399

    • Salvador Aznar Benitah
  • News & Views |

    Some biological macromolecules can control their own assembly into elegant hierarchical structures. Synthetic supramolecules are catching up fast, promising new advances for optical and biomedical materials. See Letter p.364

    • Ivan I. Smalyukh
  • News & Views |

    The origin of unusually hot stars in a sparse cluster has been attributed to their being members of binary systems rather than stellar collisions. This prompts a rethink of how stars merge when they collide. See Letter p.356

    • Christopher Tout
  • News & Views |

    Unlike in other mammals, neuron production in the subventricular region of the human brain becomes depleted in early infancy. This finding calls for a reassessment of the potential role of adult neurogenesis in health and disease. See Letter p.382

    • Jon I. Arellano
    • Pasko Rakic
  • News & Views |

    The protein Hsp90 is a target of promising anticancer drugs. An analysis of the components of Hsp90 complexes in tumours reveals a path that may lead to predictive assays of drug sensitivity in cancer patients.

    • John F. Darby
    • Paul Workman





  • Feature |

    Internet-based degree programmes are gaining acceptance, but doubts remain about their suitability for graduate science.

    • Sarah Kellogg


  • Column |

    Some researchers may recoil from metrics-based assessment. But they should know how others are keeping score, say Maria Pavlou and Eleftherios P. Diamandis.

    • Maria Pavlou
    • Eleftherios P. Diamandis


Brief Communications Arising

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