In attempt to allay the potential problem, scientists have hacked the process in which green plants use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water to glucose and oxygen
The world's population is predicted to reach 9.7 billion in 2050, but with more mouths to feed and the threat of global warming, there are fears there may not be enough food to go round.
In an attempt to relieve the potential problem, scientists have hacked the photosynthesis process in which green plants use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water to glucose and oxygen.
By taking advantage of deficiencies in the process they have found a new way to make plants soak up the sun more quickly, which could lead to better crop yields.
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of California, Berkeley, found they could increase the productivity of genetically-modified tobacco plants by between 14 and 20 per cent, by boosting levels of three proteins involved in photosynthesis.
While the benefits of producing extra tobacco plants may be questionable, the crop was chosen because it is easily modified.
Looking at the bigger picture, the work confirms that photosynthesis can be made more efficient to increase plant yield - a hypothesis some in the scientific community once doubted was possible.
This could revolutionise the production of food crops.
'We don't know for certain this approach will work in other crops, but because we're targeting a universal process that is the same in all crops, we're pretty sure it will,' said University of Illinois plant biology and crop sciences professor Stephen Long, who led the study.
Scientists tweak photosynthesis to increase crop yields