The Svelbard Global Seed Vault, a backup seed bank located on a remote island off of Norway’s northern coast, recently added 10,000 new seed varieties to its stockpile, according to a report in Science & Health. The vault, managed by the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT), is designed to ensure food security in response to the increasing agricultural impacts of climate change. The vault already stores 825,000 seed samples that represent crops that span across 13,000 years of agricultural history.
The new batch of seeds includes crop samples from more than 100 countries, including wheat, barley, corn, sorghum, peal millet, chickpea, groundnut, Asian and African aubergine and a number of indigenous African vegetables. By preserving many different types of crops, the Global Crop Diversity Trust hopes to develop and breed crops that are resistant to the effects of climate change.
As National Geographic points out, food extinction is a growing international crisis, with 90 percent of historic fruit and vegetable varieties in the United States no longer in existence. This rapidly shrinking crop diversity is largely the result of rapid land development, single-crop commercial scale farming, nutrient-deficiency in soil and an increase in global droughts as a result of climate change.
GCDT executive director Marie Haga noted the importance of the new seeds, saying, “‘The Svalbard Global Seed Vault symbolizes how we can create a long-term, sustainable and positive solution to feed the world forever.”
To support the continued expansion of the seed bank, the GCDT is now seeking support from various governments to finance an $800 million USD endowment to preserve the seed depositories.