A conservationist cradles two vials of peas destined for
deposit in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The remarkable facility set
on a rugged Arctic island off Norway is the ultimate global safety net
for food security. It’s able to protect up to 2.25 billion seeds from
even “doomsday” scenarios like asteroid impacts and nuclear war.
crop varieties are already vanishing at an astonishing pace for more
mundane reasons, from shifting local weather patterns to disuse by
farmers adopting new hybrids. The vault represents a chance to save as
many as possible.
“I’d say doomsday is happening everyday for crop varieties,” said Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust,
which helps manage the facility. “Lots of people think that this vault
is waiting for doomsday before we use it. But it’s really a backup
plan for seeds and crops. We are losing seed diversity every day and
this is the insurance policy for that.”