Arctic Doomsday Vault Now Has Half Million Samples - Becomes World's Most Diverse Collection of Saved Seeds

svalbard seed vault interior photo

photo: Mari Tefre/Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The doomsday Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway--begun as protection against any potential future calamity that threatens global food production--just turned two years old and has also just passed the half million mark in terms of seed varieties saved. This makes it the most diverse collection of crop diversity anywhere in the world. Global Agriculture on Knife's Edge
You think they'd be cheering, but Cary Fowler of the Global Crop Diversity Trust (which partners with the Norwegian Government and Sweden's Nordic Genetic Research Center in operating the vault) says it's sort of a bittersweet moment:

Reaching the half million mark brings mixed emotions, because while it shows that the vault at Svalbard is now the gold standard for diversity, it comes at a time when our agriculture systems are really sitting on a knife's edge.

That knife edge is off course climate change, something which is expected to push the limits of our agricultural systems' adaptability to the limits. Fowler cites recent studies should that corn production in Africa could drop by more than 25% in the next 20 years unless heat and drought resistant varieties can be developed--something which is only aided by having a huge collection of already existing strains to work with.

Wild & Domestic Food Crops + Forage & Garden Varieties All Saved
The Global Crop Diversity Trust highlights some of the most recent arrivals:
A wild bean species from Costa Rica that is resistant to white mold, which is a common threat to domesticated varieties in the region; wild strawberry species from remote regions of Russia; important forage crops from Africa; the entire lineage of soybeans developed in the United States in the past century, plus hundreds of wild varieties; 400 new samples of garden species from Iowa's Seed Saver Exchange.

More information: Global Crop Diversity Trust and Svalbard Global Seed Vault
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