Arctic Seed Vault Receives Seeds from Syria, Trendy Amaranth and Barley Plus High Altitude Wheat
Rarely do you celebrate an anniversary with raw chick peas and fava beans.
But these seeds, from the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), highlighted the fourth anniversary shipment for the Svalbard Global Seed Vault—located on the colder side of the Arctic circle in Norway. The Global Crop Diversity Trust, a Burness client, maintains the seed vault in partnership with the Norwegian government and the Nordic Genetic Resources Center, as a back-up to the living crop diversity collections housed in “genebanks” around the world.
“The incredible range and importance of the seeds that have been sent here this week for safekeeping provide vivid examples of why we need to carefully collect and preserve our planet’s crop diversity,” said Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust.
The chick peas and fava beans were part of a regularly scheduled shipment from ICARDA’s research facility in Syria, which has now backed up almost its entire collection in Svalbard. Fowler explained to the Associated Press that “the events unfolding in Syria obviously underline the importance of having safety duplication outside of a country.”
Rare wheat collected from the “Roof of the World” in the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan; amaranth, with its exotic blood-red stalks that are used in a “Day of the Dead” drink; and barley that helped spawn the craft beer revolution were also included in this shipment. In all, almost 25,000 seed samples arrived this week in Svalbard. “Our crop diversity is constantly under threat, from dramatic dangers such as fires, political unrest, war and tornadoes, as well as the mundane, such as failing refrigeration systems and budget cuts,” Fowler explained. “But these seeds are the future of our food supply, as they carry genetic treasure such as heat resistance, drought tolerance, or disease and pest resistance.” For more information, check out this segment on The Today Show or Cary Fowler’s interview with The Atlantic.
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