Publication Date


Series Number

21-WP 616


Climate change is one of the major threats to the global food supply, and adaptation by technological progress is believed to be essential. What is the scope of the required innovation tasks? To address this question, we estimate the yield gain in US maize production due to a major novel technology: genetically engineered (GE) varieties. Next, the yield model is used to extrapolate future expected yields given climate change projections from twenty large-scale models and two warming scenarios. We find that climate change entails significant yield shortfalls. The scale of these yield gaps, by the end of the century, ranges from about 2.7 to 6.3 times the total yield gains from GE varieties. These results suggest that the scope of adaptation is challenging. Ambitious and targeted R&D efforts, and innovation breakthroughs, may be required to close the yield gaps likely to arise from climate change.