Svalbard Global Seed Vault: 50,000 seed samples sent to the Vault

Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway

Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway

Svalbard Global Seed Vault has received a major seed shipment while world leaders are gathered to tackle climate change in Copenhagen.

On Sunday Dec. 13, more than 50,000 seed samples landed in Longyearbyen to find their place in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

The shipment contains seeds from crops adapted to dry climates. Among them is sorghum, a high energy crop, known for its wide adaptability and resistance to drought. This “camel among crops” could be a key to agricultural development in areas affected by aridity and saline soils.

Cultural plants for the future

Since the climate conditions change so rapidly, it is extremely important to ensure the genetic diversity of all the cultural plants of the world. In these genes, we will find the necessary qualities to make effective cultural plants in the future. This is absolutely necessary to secure a satisfactory food supply for the global population. Within the next 40 years, the world’s food production must be doubled, says the Norwegian minister of agriculture and food, Lars Peder Brekk.

Minister of Agriculture and Food Lars Peder Brekk and executive director of Global Crop Diversity Trust, Cary Fowler. Photo: Kjell Werner, ANB

Minister of Agriculture and Food Lars Peder Brekk and executive director of Global Crop Diversity Trust, Cary Fowler. Photo: Kjell Werner, ANB

Among the depositors are two major agricultural research centers, both working with adaptation of plants to dryer areas: ICARDA (International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas) and ICRISAT (International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics).

– Genetic diversity is vital for solving the challenges to agriculture which climate change will cause. It is only through using this diversity that scientists can breed new varieties of our crops, able to thrive in dramatically different conditions expected in the future. This diversity is stored in seeds, and seeds from all continents are now stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, says Roland von Bothmer, professor of genetics and plant-breeding at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and part of the team responsible for running the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

Since the opening of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in February 2008, more than 430.000 unique seed samples have arrived at the Vault from seed banks all over the world. The purpose is to take care of and protect the seeds in the Arctic permafrost.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is the ultimate security net for the world’s crop diversity. The Seed Vault aims at safeguarding the world’s most important plant genetic resources for food and agriculture with a maximum level of security.

The Seed Vault offers free-of-charge back-up for the seed collections held in seed banks around the world.

Source: Ministry of Agriculture and Food

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