In June 2010, peer-reviewed research led by two scientists from Stanford University found that high-yield agriculture has prevented large amounts of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere, the equivalent of 590 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide.

A Stanford news release stated that, if not for increased yields, additional greenhouse gas emissions from clearing land for farming would have been equal to as much as a third of the world's total output of greenhouse gases since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in 1850. The research also indicates that investment in yield improvements compares favorably with other commonly proposed mitigation strategies, and that further yield improvements should therefore be prominent among efforts to reduce future greenhouse gas emissions.