Wheat is grown yearly on 215 million hectares — an area equivalent to that of Greenland and distributed from Scandinavia to South America and across Asia, making it more widely grown than any other staple food crop. Nearly US $50 billion-worth of wheat is traded globally each year.

First and foremost a food crop, wheat is eaten by 2.5 billion people in 89 countries. It supersedes maize or rice as a source of protein in low- and middle-income nations and is second only to rice as a source of calories.

The scientists predict that by 2050 consumers will require 60 percent more wheat than today. This demand must be met without opening new land and with better use of fertilizer, water, and labor.