Seeds collected just in case

A new project to collect and store various seeds will help future generations prevail.

The fate of human civilization might lie in a small group of islands north of Norway. Here an ambitious project has been launched to house a collection of seeds. A giant vault has been erected that will hold samples of seeds from agricultural crops worldwide to aid human populations if disaster strikes.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault will lie deep inside a mountain where temperatures will be kept around zero degrees Fahrenheit to allow seeds to be preserved for thousands of years. The structure is now completed, and seeds will begin to arrive in February. Though it won’t be filled to capacity right away, the vault will be able to store 4.5 million seed samples.

With large support from the Norwegian government and the Gates Foundation, the Global Crop Diversity Trust is overseeing the project. After seed banks in Iraq and Afghanistan were looted, invaluable seeds from the birthplace of agriculture were lost, and the utility of a more secure and comprehensive seed bank became apparent.

While this type of project might seem unnecessary and pessimistic, the founders were envisioning more practical uses. Rather than imagining the seed vault as a safeguard against meteors and other apocalyptic disasters, the vault is intended to provide backup seeds as our planet’s climate changes.

This is truly a worthy cause. As our climate changes, some agricultural staples might see significantly reduced yields, but a seed vault will allow for different varieties and strains to be kept. These slight variations might be able to thrive in the changing world.

With quickly advancing technology, it is easy for our species to assume that we can overcome anything that comes our way, but with a growing world population, it is imperative that we have crops that can grow efficiently and abundantly. While we certainly hope we never need to use this supply of seeds, this foresight could someday be a great benefit to humankind.