BACKGROUND: Analyses of sensitivity of Global Food Security (FS) score to a key set of supply or demand factors often suggest population and water supply as being the most critical and on which policies tend to focus. To explore other policy options, we characterized the nexus between GFS and a set of supply or demand factors including population, agricultural and industrial water uses, agricultural publications (as a surrogate for investment in agricultural research and development (R&D)) and corruption perception index (CPI), to reveal opportunities for attaining enduring GFS. RESULTS: We found that despite being the primary driver of demand for food, population showed no significant correlation with FS scores. Similarly, agricultural water use was poorly correlated with GFS scores, except in countries where evaporation exceeds precipitation and irrigation is significant. However, FS had a strong positive association with industrial water use as a surrogate for overall industrialization. Recent expansions in cultivated land area failed to yield concomitant improvements in FS score since such expansions have been mostly into marginal lands with low productivity and thus barely compensated for lands retired from cropping in several developed economies. However, FS was positively associated with agricultural R&D investments, as it was with the CPI scores. The apparent and relative strengths of these drivers on FS outcome amongst countries were in the order: industrial water-use ≈ publication rate ≈ corruption perception ≫ agricultural water use > population. CONCLUSIONS: We suggest that to enshrine enduring food security, policies should prioritize (1) increased R&D investments that address farmer needs and (2) governance mechanisms that promote accountability in both research and production value chains.