1st anniversary of global seed vault marked with four-ton shipment of critical food crops

February 26th, 2009 - 6:17 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Feb 26 (ANI): A four-ton shipment of critical food crops has been supplied to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, as it celebrates its one-year anniversary.

The shipment included almost 90,000 samples of hundreds of crop species, from food crop collections maintained by Canada, Ireland, Switzerland, USA, and three international agricultural research centers in Syria, Mexico and Colombia.

The repository, located near the village of Longyearbyen on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, has in one year amassed a collection of more than 400,000 unique seed samples - some 200 million seeds.

“We are especially proud to see such a large number of countries work quickly to provide samples from their collections for safekeeping in the vault,” said Norwegian Agriculture Minister Lars Peder Brekk.

“It shows that there are situations in the world today capable of transcending politics and inspiring a strong unity of purpose among a diverse community of nations,” he added.

“The vault was opened last year to ensure that one day all of humanity’s existing food crop varieties would be safely protected from any threat to agricultural production, natural or man made. It’s amazing how far we have come toward accomplishing that goal,” said Cary Fowler, Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust.

For example, in its first year of operation, the vault at Svalbard has so far received duplicates of nearly half of the crop samples maintained by the genebanks of the international agricultural research centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

These international genebanks are seen as the custodians of the crown jewels of crop diversity.

This diversity has been instrumental in the breeding of new varieties responsible for the remarkable productivity gains made in global agriculture in recent decades, and in averting food crises when farm production has been threatened by natural disasters, plant diseases, and plant pests.

To mark the anniversary of the vault, experts on global warming and its effects on food production have gathered in Longyearbyen to discuss how climate change could pose a major threat to food production, and to examine crop diversity’s role in averting crisis.

Seeds arriving for the vault anniversary include samples of 32 varieties of potatoes in addition to oat, wheat, barley, and native grass species from two of Ireland’s national gene banks.

In addition to Ireland’s contribution, 3,800 samples of wheat and barley have come from Switzerland’s national seed bank in Changins.

The United States is sending 20,000 samples from the seed repository maintained by the federal Department of Agriculture that represents 361 crop species. (ANI)

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