Global Seed Vault: Protecting the future of agriculture

Halfway between Norway and the North Pole in the chilly waters of the Arctic Ocean lie the Svalbard Islands. On one of the largest, called Spitsbergen, sits a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to one of the most urgent undertakings for today’s warming world: ensuring the future of agriculture for the global community.

That little-known facility is called The Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is owned and operated by the Norwegian government and supported by The Crop Trust, an international group dedicated to the protection of global food security. The scope of The Seed Vault’s mission is staggering: that is, to conserve the diversity of agricultural crops worldwide and to prevent diversity extinction due to climate change, natural disaster, or war.

The Seed Vault’s underground storage facility, tunneled 394 feet into the rocky layer beneath a permafrost-covered field, has the distinction of housing the world’s largest collection of seeds. Just this past February, 50,000 were deposited for safekeeping. With a storage capacity of up to 4.5 million crop samples, the vault is on the path to becoming the world’s largest repository for conservation ex situ of worldwide plant diversity. According to the organization’s website, “the seed vault offers fail-safe protection for one of the most important resources on earth.”

In the emotionally powerful video below, narrator and plant-diversity conservationist Cary Fowler takes us on a journey into the history of agriculture and then urges us to reconsider and reset our priorities in terms of food production.

Setting those priorities in the right direction has never been more controversial nor more urgent now that Donald Trump is enthroned in the oval office. Trump’s take on security and Fowler’s are worlds apart. Think about it. Will Trump’s proposal to increase the military budget by $54 billion create a more secure world? Will we truly be more secure when one takes into account the human cost and negative impacts of paying for Trump’s boondoggle with decreased funding for foreign aid, food programs, and climate-change research?

Or will we be more secure if we acknowledge the reality of climate change and take the necessary steps now to protect the world’s most fundamental resource: our food supply. Watch this extraordinary video and learn that the answer to that question is unequivocal.