In this season where gifts are in the air, I’d like to share the short movie above, The Seed Vault. It’s about a gift that is waiting for the world, on a remote arctic island off the coast of Norway.
It’s a seed vault—a room of seeds at the end of a long tunnel in a frozen mountain. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault protects samples of just about every plant used for food, sent in by gene banks all over the world. This is the ultimate repository of the seeds that are the key to human survival.
Not long ago, I heard a talk by Cary Fowler, the renowned scientist who has spent years exploring the challenge of preserving biodiversity. I left his talk deeply moved by his selfless work done with such urgency and modesty.
The seeds in there represent the history of agriculture, the experiences that our crops have had over 12,000 to 15,000 years of agriculture. People, plants, environment. These are seeds that have evolved over millennia of people selecting for shape, color, environment.
The scenarios under which our crops would fail are disturbing to contemplate (nuclear disaster and climate change in particular). I tend to have my head down, thinking about the next day or maybe next week. We are fortunate to have people who are thinking far ahead of us about the ultimate gift to humanity: a protected future for our food supply.