Good news for our future: new seeds have been deposited in a preserving vault on the Arctic mountainside, to prevent food shortage in the event of a disaster.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was created to safely store the world’s crop seeds from disease, war, and other catastrophes. The vault, located on Spitsbergen island, was recently opened to allow gene banks from Sudan, Uganda, New Zealand, Germany, and Lebanon to deposit seeds. The International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas also deposited around 8,000 seeds.
“The fact that the seed collection destroyed in Syria during the civil war has been systematically rebuilt shows that the vault functions as an insurance for current and future food supply and for local food security,” says Norwegian International Development Minister Anne Beathe Tvinnereim.
Today, the vault holds over 1.1 million seed samples and also serves as a backup for plant breeders to develop new crop varieties. The importance of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is tenfold as humans today get almost half of our calories from three main crops — maize, wheat, and rice — down from about 6,000 different plants that man used to cultivate regularly. The vault is a needed backup should climate change, or anything else for that matter, cause the harvest to fail.