Global seed vault the world’s ‘ultimate insurance policy’ for future food security, say scientists

Nordic Genetic Resource Center director Lise Lykke Steffensen told CNA that special precautions have to be taken when it comes to gene banks.

“You never know what could happen with gene banks. It’s not only war. It can be a fire, flooding, a stupid fault from staff who turn off the refrigerators or something,” she said.

“So you need to have a safety backup, because the seeds in the gene bank are unique so this uniqueness is your safety insurance for the future.”

With global temperatures rising with climate change, securing as many seeds as possible will ensure that the global population can be fed in the decades to come, according to scientists.

“Climate change means rougher climate, higher temperatures, longer droughts, more flooding, new pests and diseases,” said Mr Stefan Schmitz, executive director of Crop Trust, an international organisation that works to protect global crop diversity.


Crop Trust led a project to support transport costs for developing nations to bring their seed samples over to Svalbard.

“Our food, our crops, need to be resilient. They need to cope with these changing circumstances. Therefore, plant breeders need all those varieties, take the genetic traits out of them, mix them, cross-breed them, to make sure the new varieties are fit for the future,” he said.

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