Seeds on ice: ‘Doomsday’ vault preserves global seed diversity


[Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt of the transcript of an interview with Cary Fowler, creator of the Global Seed Vault and author of the book “Seeds on Ice”.]

CARY FOWLER: The point [of the seed vault] is to conserve crop diversity. And most people don’t really stop to think of why crop diversity is important enough to be conserving. But it’s the biological foundation of agriculture, and it’s the raw material for plant evolution, for plant breeding for the future. So if we want our crops to be productive in the future, if we want them adapted to new climates or to whatever pest or disease is out there, then we need to conserve that diversity because the diversity is really a diversity of traits. And those are the options that we have for the future, just like an artist would have a lot of different colors on his or her palette.

We don’t want to eliminate or reduce those colors. We want to save all the traits that plant diversity has. And typically, over the years, most of that conservation of crop diversity has been done by conserving seeds. Some crops can’t be conserved that way, and there are other means for doing that. But mostly, countries and institutions around the world that are involved in this have been saving seeds, freezing them for the long term and for short-term use, and plant breeding programs and other kinds of biological research.

[To listen to the full interview, click the link below]

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Inside The Global Seed Vault, Where The History And Future Of Agriculture Is Stored