Voices, past, present, and future would like for you to travel with us into THE DOOMSDAY VAULT. On an island above the Arctic Circle between Norway and the North Pole, deep in the bowels of an icy mountain, lies a resource of vital importance for the future of humankind.
It’s not coal, oil or precious minerals as you would suspect, but rather it’s seeds from more than 930,000 varieties of food crops. Millions of these tiny brown specks are stored in the Global Seed Vault.
It is essentially a huge safety deposit box that holds the world’s largest collection of agricultural biodiversity. Brian Lainoff, the lead partnership coordinator of the Crop Trust says, ” Inside this building is 13,000 years of agriultural history”.
The Global Seed Vault, dubbed the “Doomsday Vault”, conjures up an image of a reserve of seeds for use in case of an apocalyptic event or a global catastophe. If you read my post on Nostradamus and his predictions for the future, http://voicespastpresentandfuture.com/2022/03/23/he-said-what/, this vault of seeds may indeed come in handy.
Regardless of what predictions have said, it is the much smaller, localized destruction and threats facing gene banks all over the world, that the vault was designed to protect against.
Marie Haga, executive director of the Crop Trust stated, “There are big and small doomsdays going on around the world everyday. Genetic Materi is being lost all over the globe.”
It was precisely for its remoteness that Svalbard was chosen as the location of the vault. Bente Naeverdal, a property manager who oversees the day-to-day operations of the vault, stated “It is away from the places on earth where you have war and terror, everything maybe you are afraid of in other places. It is situated in a safe place.”
The only neighbor to this vault is a similar repository buried away from the dangers of the world: The Arctic World Archive. It aims to preserve data for the world’s governments and private institutions.
The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) is a global agricultural-research organization that had been based in Syria. It was forced to flee its headquarters, just outside of Aleppo, because of the Civil War. The organization evacuated its international staff in 2012, but some Syrian researchers stayed behind to rescue equipment and even animals.
As the fighting intensified, they were forced to leave behind their gene bank, one of the world’s most valuable collection of seeds, containing some of the oldest varieties of wheat and barley. ICARDA re-established its headquarters in Morocco and Lebanon, and restarted the gene bank in 2015, using seeds from the Svalbard-vault, which was the first ever withdrawal there.
Taken from their icy slumber and woken up, the seeds were planted in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley and in Morocco. The offspring of these seeds were carefully collected and processed and then returned to the vault. In late February, ICARDA returned the varieties of seeds it had taken out. Lainoff explains, “These seeds have come full circle”.
Gene banks in Afghanistan and Iraq have been destroyed, along with them genetic material that wasn’t backed up in Svalbard. It is not just armed conflict that threatens these valuable resources. Some have been hit with natural disasters, like the Philippine national gene bank, that was damaged by flooding from a typhoon and then later a fire.
A lack of resources is probably the biggest threat facing the world’s gene banks. Many lack the resources to properly store or protect the seeds they hold. In an age of heightened geopolitical tensions and uncertainty, the Svalbard vault is an unusual and hopeful exercise in international cooperation for the good of humankind. Any country or organization can send seeds to it, and there are no restrictions because of politics or the requirements of diplomacy.
For me, I understand that preserving these seeds in the case of an apocalyptic disaster, but I have a real problem with the countries around the world and its peoples starving and the commercials that advertise their struggles, asking for money donations when there are seed vaults out there that could help these people in crisis. As well as the fact that the seeds these plants produce can be reharvested and placed back into the vaults.
The “What If” scenario doesn’t sit well with me when there are so many out there that could use it now, while there is time to reharvest the seeds and put them back.
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