Agriculture & Forestry, News

Svalbard Global Seed Vault secures future seed

This year it is five years since the first boxes of seeds from food crops were carried into the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Today, more than 770,000 different seed samples are deposited in the vault for long-term storage.

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the opening of the seed vault, Minister of Agriculture and Food, Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, visited Svalbard. There he met with the International Advisory Council for the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, and also inspected the vault.

Minister of Agriculture and Food Trygve Slagsvold Vedum with the Nordic seed samples deposited in the vault on this occasion. (Photo: MAF)

Future seed

“The seed vault is a completely unique and incredibly fascinating facility. Here the precautionary principle in practised in the best possible manner by providing long-term storage for future seed,” Vedum says. “Without seed we would be empty-handed and without the ability to produce food.

The seeds frozen in the mountains of Svalbard may help to adapt our crops to changing climatic conditions and be an important key to global food security,” says Minister of Agriculture and Food, Trygve Slagsvold Vedum.

Vedum also met with former Minister Åslaug Haga in Svalbard. On 25 February she took up position as new director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which is an important partner for the Ministry Agriculture and Food in the operation of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

The Global Crop Diversity Trust is an independent, international trust for the protection of genetic diversity in agriculture. The trust is run by contributions from organizations and a number of governments, including the Norwegian government.

Minister of Agriculture and Food Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, Roland von Bothmer of NordGen and new director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, Åslaug Haga, inspecting the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. (Photo: MAF)

Svalbard Global Seed Vault is currently the collection with the greatest variety of seed samples in the world. Here seeds from the world’s food crops are stored for future generations.  This week, new shipments of seeds from Canada, the Netherlands, the Nordic area and the Seed Savers Exchange organization were deposited in the vault. Over the next few months new seed shipments from Thailand, Germany and Uzbekistan are expected.

Backup storage for the world’s seed

 The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was established by the Norwegian government and has for the past five years offered free storage for seed collections all over the world who want an additional backup.

Today somewhat less than 2 million different seeds from global food and agricultural crops are in cold storage in private and public gene banks worldwide.

The Nordic Genetic Resource Centre (NordGen), which is responsible for the daily operations of the seed vault, opens for deposits of new seeds three to four times a year.

Deposited seeds from Syria in the vault. (Photo: MAF)