Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Seed Security

Crop Trust executive director (and former Memphian) Cary Fowler recently sent out an email updating people on his organization's accomplishments for 2008 and plans for 2009.

Among the accomplishments, the most publicized was perhaps the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which houses seeds from more than 24,000 crop species worldwide. The vault is the back-up for national genebanks and will ensure seed diversity for the future.

Over the next three years, the Trust will also be rescuing 100,000 distinct crop varieties that "otherwise would face extinction. Who knows what valuable traits for heat tolerance, disease and pest resistance and nutritional qualities will be saved as a result!" Fowler said.

He also noted that the new U.S. Farm Bill authorized a $60 million contribution to the Trust's endowment.

Going forward, the Trust is looking for a far-sighted donor to help completely endow a crop, such as wheat (it's kind of important to life as we know it), and is spearheading a strategy to collect and conserve wild botanical relatives of food crops.

Said Fowler: "We will work steadily to fashion these efforts into a global system capable of protecting the biological foundation of agriculture for at least as long as we'll need food and agriculture. That's a long, long time."


Shane said...

It would also be helpful if consumers looked to smaller seed companies, and bought heirloom vegetable seeds for their gardens. They are inexpensive to purchase, and help keep the diversity we need.

On the other hand, companies like Monsanto and Cargill are ruining or biodiversity with their enginnered and patented seeds like Terminator. Interestingly enough, they have donated to this cause. Why? But that's another story.

Ganja Blue said...

I'm sure there is one important seed crop that will go unpreserved. Hemp is a food and medicinal plant that has been used by humans for at least the last 6000 years. Unfortunately is has been maligned by or government for the last 70 years. I hope that superstition doesn't continue supersede science.