Longyearbyen, Norway (26 February 2014)Over 20,000 crops originating from over 100 countries will arrive this week at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (SGSV), in time for the vault's sixth birthday. The samples include a university collection of barley from earthquake-rattled Japan, crucial to everything from beer and whiskey to miso soup and summertime tea; an untamed assortment of wild relatives of rice, maize and wheat; exotic red okra from Tennessee via the Cherokee; and, from Brazil, a humble bean that launched a national cuisine.
The addition of this cornucopia of crops to the "Doomsday Seed Vault"so called because it is protecting agricultural systems worldwide from disasters natural or manmademeans there are now 820,619 samples or "accessions" of food crops and their wild relatives stored deep in an Arctic mountain on Norway's remote Svalbard archipelago. Their arrival coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which maintains the seed vault in partnership with the Norwegian government and the Nordic Genetic Resources Center.
"Our annual gatherings at the seed vault are a sort of winter Olympics of crop diversity, only we are not competing against each other but against the wide array of threats, natural and manmade, ranged against the diversity of food crops, diversity that is so crucial to the future of human civilization," said Marie Haga, the Crop Trust's executive director. "We are particularly excited to be welcoming our first seed deposits from Japan, which has been very active globally in the preservation of a wide array of crop species."
The seed vault is a backup, housing duplicates of the living crop diversity collections kept in "genebanks" around the world and widely and regularly shared with plant breeders.
Among the contributors to the seed vault on its sixth birthday are the Barley Germplasm Center of Okayama University in Japan; the CGIAR's International Maize and Wheat Imp
|Contact: Michelle Geis