Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Global Seed Vault – Securing A Better Future

Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway
Built in a vacant coal mine deep within arctic permafrost, the Global Seed Vault contains the most diverse collection of food crops on the planet. The vast collection, amounting to a whopping 864,000 samples, houses close to 4.5 million seeds. Among the cataloged seeds are 159,000 varieties of wheat and 146,000 types of rice. These seeds have been kept for reasons varying from ensuring genetic diversity to expressing individual, commercially valuable traits.

The bank itself was conceived as a fail-safe in the event of global catastrophe with an emphasis on maintaining food security in less developed countries. This focus cast a gazing eye on the future when it was built in 2008 with the Crop Trust, its operating body, calling it “the final backup.” In the case of nuclear war or the rampant population growth expected over the next 100 years, these seeds will be there for emergency use – viable and ready to plant.

That viability was threatened in 2017 when the changing climate reared its head. Up until then, the Global Seed Vault had proven to be the perfect place for storing its grand collection. Located 800 miles within the Arctic Circle in Svalbard, Norway, one would think that melting ice would be low on the list of worries – and it was. Unfortunately, the permafrost that had previously encapsulated the vault began to melt and left thousands of years of agriculture in limbo. Thankfully for the vault and any future generations who may need its services, the water did not reach any of the seed collection. It did, however, serve as a fair warning.

Heeding the warning, the Norwegian government has allocated $10 million to buffer the vault’s defenses against mounting challenges, climate-driven or otherwise. With new emergency power units, refrigeration systems and a brand new concrete access tunnel, scientists hope to avoid any further scares. Agriculture is expected to be hit increasingly hard by the stressors caused by climatic changes and food security will play an important role in maintaining the safety, health and cohesion of billions of people worldwide.

It is time to be thankful for the people keeping their eyes on future generations. Without them we would not have some of the things we take for granted. For better or for worse, a few seeds may be all it takes to make or break our species and, like other vaults around the world, the Global Seed Vault is securing a better future for all of us.

Click Here To Browse Our Organic & Heirloom Seed Catalog To Start Your Winter Garden Today!

- Contributed by Sterling N.

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