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"The purpose of the Vault is to store duplicates (backups) of seed samples from the world's crop collections. It will secure, for centuries, millions of seeds representing every important crop variety available in the world today. It is the final back up."
"We did not expect a retrieval this early," Crop Trust spokesman Brian Lainoff told NPR. "But [we] knew in 2008 that Syria was in for an interesting couple of years. This is why we urged them to deposit so early on."
ICARDA scientists need the seeds from Norway so they can plant and regenerate them at ICARDA facilities in Lebanon and Morocco. With new seeds, they can resume the important research they've been doing for decades. They will replace what they had on ice in Norway with some of the newly generated seeds.
The ICARDA genebank holds over 135,000 accessions from over 110 countries: traditional varieties, improved germplasm, and a unique set of wild crop relatives. These include wheat, barley, oats and other cereals; food legumes such as faba bean, chickpea, lentil and field pea; forage crops, rangeland plants, and wild relatives of each of these species.
"ICARDA wants almost 130 boxes out of 325 it had deposited in the vault, containing a total of 116,000 samples, she told Reuters. They will be sent once paperwork is completed, she said."
Thought it's entire reason for being was well?
Throughout the history of agriculture farmers have generated a seemingly endless diversity within crops, discovering ingenious solutions to local challenges. Meanwhile, the wild relatives of these crops have also persisted in nature, adapting to tough environments. It is diversity that allows farmers to feed the world – come what may. But this diversity is in fact not endless. It is disappearing, and once lost, it’s lost forever.
Meanwhile, the centers do much more than store samples. “It’s their mandate to allow this material to be accessed by scientists and breeders and farmers,” says Brian Lainoff, a spokesperson for Crop Trust, which administers the Svalbard Vault. “A collection is not meant to be a museum.”
You know, like in a bank.
Under the Plant Treaty, breeders can easily obtain and work with material of these crop families from more than 130 countries. In many cases they will do something innovative with it, such as create a new variety by combining lines from different parts of the world. Anyone who does so agrees that they will, in turn, make the derived variety freely available – or if they use it to develop a commercial product, that they will pay a percentage of profits into a special benefit sharing fund.