Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Banking Biodiversity To Save The World

Expect the best but prepare for the worst. That might be the slogan for the new “seed vault” which opened this week in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. The facility, buried deep within the arctic tundra is designed to preserve simple seeds, but those seeds could restore the food supply for the world should a global catastrophe happen. Be it global warming or an asteroid collision the Svalbard Global Seed Vault will hold the future for the survival of human kind. The vault is meant to be the backup of last resort, stocked with copies of different crops from national seed storage facilities. It will contain one of the largest varieties of plant seeds anywhere in the world.

Though they sound like the stuff of science fiction, seed banks have already been used in modern times to help restore food crops to countries ravaged by wars, like Afghanistan and Iraq. The project is lead by the Italian based, Global Crop Diversity Trust. Its staff is working with countries across the globe to fill the repository with every conceivable seed to maintain the biodiversity of the globe.

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