Seeds Safely Stored in Svalbard

3/25/2008 // "The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is the ultimate safety net for the world’s seed banks," says Ola Westengen, Operation Manager at Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

"The Seed Vault will be part of an international network for storage and use of genetic resources. The world’s seed banks are used by researchers, plant breeders and farmers and are incredibly important. The seed vault in Svalbard will act as the ‘central bank’ in this system," says Ola Westengen, Operation Manager. He is employed by Nordic Gene Bank and is responsible for the management of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

"The Seed Vault will act as the ultimate safety net for the various seed banks around the world. Last year, a typhoon in the Philippines destroyed the national seed bank there. The seed banks in Iraq and Afghanistan have been ruined by the wars. However, the gravest problem facing many nations’ seed banks is that the seeds die as a result of poor management and lack of funding," says Mr. Westengen.

Climate change
"No country is entirely self-sufficient when it comes to genetic resources. Food security in every country depends on food crops that originate from other continents. Global collaboration is therefore essential to ensure correct storage and fair distribution of the value generated by their use in research and development. Safeguarding the genetic diversity of food plants is also fundamental to our ability to adapt to climate change. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a concrete and important step in this kind of global collaboration, and the initiative is supported by the United Nations," says Mr Westengen.

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