January 10, 2012

A seedbank for the future

Saludos, my friends, it’s been quite a while. But of course in the grand scheme of things, barely any time at all.

I’ve been thinking quite a lot lately about the things that scientists are trying to preserve for the future.  I’ve been thinking about how during Stalin’s reign, there were botanists who secretly stored seeds and different kinds of plants as the agricultural landscape of the huge country was being radically altered as the country was being unified.  It was in the name of crop diversity.  Crops are “genetic resources.” They can go extinct just like animals.

The varieties of wheat, corn and rice grown all over the world today may survive, but may not thrive, in a future threatened by climate change. A “biodiversity warrior” named Cary Fowler did an excellent TED Talk (yes, I know, they are so great, my friends!) in which he takes us inside a gigantic global seed bank, buried inside a frozen mountain in Norway, that stores a diverse group of food crops for whatever tomorrow may bring.  It is quite fascinating.  (There are quite a few all over the world.)

The entrance to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. Muy dramatico, no?

Burying seeds inside an icy Norwegian mountain may seem like something from a James Bond movie, but this is very serious business.  We really don’t know what will happen one hundred years from now.  Let alone one thousand  Or ten thousand.

It heartens me to know someone is thinking about protecting the future of food.

The grim iciness of the seedbank’s entrance is making me crave papaya, so I will leave you to ponder Mr. Fowler’s talk while I appreciate the fleeting deliciousness of that exquisite fruit.



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    "The Next Forever" is a song from The Great Immensity. The footage was taken on Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal by videographer David Ford. Music and lyrics by Michael Friedman.
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