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The Importance And Future Of Seed Banks

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Imagine going through a tragic disaster such as a war and thousands of lives and seeds being destroyed. This is the story of Aleppo, Syria. With the Syrian war having occurred not only did thousands of citizens lose lives but additionally a famous seed bank was destroyed. ICARDA, a famous gene bank in Aleppo, Syria was most affected by an unfortunate conflict. Because of this conflict seeds were affected and also the facilities and trucks.

One of the main reasons ICARDA did not lose their entire collection of gene banks was due to the entire process of transferring it to Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Many people such as Cary Fowley, Mr. Shehadeh, and Dr. Mahmoud Solh were key essentials in making a difference in saving crop diversity. ICARDA has a goal of combating climate change and making a difference in the world of gene banks. Many other countries were supportive of Aleppo, Syria when the war occured and allowed them to rebuild their collection in places such an Lebanon and Morocco. As Luigi Guarino stated in the article ICARDA Genebank to Get Award, ICARDA has provided for the creation of pest resistance, fighting diseases, and combating droughts. The main leader in this project was Dr. Mahmoud Solh, who won the Gregor Mendel foundation award. His dedication and work was viewed as inspiring for many. Much of the nation has been positively impacted due to this collection. Additionally in 2016, it was said that ICARDA allowed for crop variation to be possible.

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I learned from the article Expanded Drylan in Crop GeneBank Opening in Lebanon that just in the past four years 11, 000 crops were added to the collection. Likewise, citizens were willing to help establish the collection in Bekaa Valley. The newspiece of a New Dawn in Lebanon and ICARDA described citizens as being hopeful. Hope is a very positive characteristic to feel after facing adversity and if change is happening. Affected by the war, 140, 000 seeds from the collection had to be transferred to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Svalbard was one of the most important components in allowing ICARDA to survive. Cary Fowler, an American agronomist, was able to make a difference with Svalbard. Fowler founded the seed vault with the mindset of protecting the future of food. In 2008, he founded a seed vault in the Norwegian territory that would allow for seeds to be conserved and kept dry.

According to the Ted Talk titled One Seed at a Time, Protecting the Future of Food, Fowler communicated how he is trying to find diversity in different foods because much of it is being lost in this era and could affect the future of availability in food. The impact of Svalbard Global Seed Vault has affected the entire world. Some shipments from different countries have been difficult to deliver due to differences in climate and other factors. According to the Seeds of War Arte Reportage, it was mentioned that the seed bank has reached one million seed samples with the help of around 200 countries. Additionally, as restated in the Backup Copy, even though there are 1, 400 gene banks around the world, Svalbard is the best alternative option if disasters affect other seed banks. Svalbard is recognized globally because it is the security backup if war occurs or plants become extinct.

I think it is important to recognize the nickname of “Doomsday Vault” that was given to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault because I think it is relevant. In a time where many countries are facing adversity, this location is prime. It is in a very remote area with perfect temperature. It is a very cost-effective option due to the fact that not much has to be paid in order to keep the temperature cool due to the atmosphere. I think the name is ironic because in the reading Reclaiming Syria’s Seeds from an Icy Arctic Vault, it stated the samples being placed in the vault is essential to the future of food. Another prime location for a seed vault to be built would be Alaska and Antarctica. These locations would work best due to the climate and the fact that the areas are not populated. It is best if less people go there because it is still an area that needs improvement and many discoveries are made in these gene banks.

With the creation of ICARDA and Svalbard, I am hopeful for the future of seed banks. It is very eye opening hearing that several countries are coming together to make a positive difference in crop diversity and the availability of food in the future. If gene banks keep on preserving seeds, world hunger will be cut down and so will climate change. I believe that if conservationists continue to save beneficial traits then the future of seeds is in good hands. If gene vaults focus on finding broader genes then other genetic traits will continue to appear on other various collections of samples and the variety of food options will broaden instead of diminish.

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