As the population boomed in the 1980s, it became more urgent to find ways to feed billions of people. Today, more than half the world relies on rice as a staple in their diet, thanks to work by plant geneticists at UC Davis. In the 1990s, Gurdev Khush, UC Davis professor emeritus and World Food Prize winner, developed more hardy and higher-quality rice, feeding a growing population and improving the well-being of rice farmers worldwide. More recently, Professor Pamela Ronald and Professor David Mackill used gene modification to create flood-resistant varieties of rice, which has benefitted millions of farmers growing rice in flood-prone zones, as well as increasing food security for 70 million people in India and Southeast Asia. Genetic discoveries like these lead researchers to develop hardier, climate-resilient rice, which is the staple food for more than half the world's population.