So much of our existence and our society depends on the ability of plants to harness light and produce oxygen and organic matter. Domestication of plants for agriculture resulted in many of the great civilisations of the past, Asian civilisations based on rice. Middle Eastern on wheat and barley, and American on maize. Over the past few thousand years, more than half of the suitable land on Earth and virtually all of the most fertile land, has been converted for agricultural use. Agriculture today is a global business, and a necessity for the production of food, drinks and other vital commodities such as building materials, fibres, clothing, drugs and medicines. New products from, and uses for, plants are constantly being sought and developed, and plants are crucial for maintaining the environment, both globally in maintaining our atmosphere, and locally in the form of recreational facilities. Today, plants dominate our lives and economy, just as they have in all civilisations.