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NGOs Wary of Doomsday Seed Vault

by Keya Acharya

BANGALORE - Agricultural non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in India and elsewhere are criticizing the newly-opened Global Seed Vault (GSV) at Svalbard in Norway as fundamentally unjust in its objectives.0304 03

The Barcelona-based agriculture lobby, GRAIN, with branches in major developing nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, says a serious deficiency of the seed vault is that it deals basically with state and private-body depositors to the bank, thereby excluding the rights of poor farmers who cannot access these seeds.

GRAIN says the GSV’s ex-situ storage system takes unique plant varieties away from farming communities that originally created, selected, protected and shared the seeds. Farmers, it holds, do not know how to access the scientific and institutional framework involved in setting up the system and are excluded.

“This system forgets that farmers are the world’s original, and ongoing, plant breeders,” GRAIN’s Asia Program Officer, Shalini Bhutani, who is based in New Delhi, told IPS.

Negotiating intellectual property and other rights over the seeds, originally conserved by farmers, thus becomes the business of governments and the seed industry itself, she says.

Decisions on the GSV will be taken by the Norwegian government, currently regarded as trustworthy, but without guarantee that its policies will change. It has a ten-year agreement with depositors that included clauses allowing them to be terminated if policies change.

Management of the GSV is spelled out in a tripartite agreement between the Norwegian government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center, a cooperative effort of the Nordic countries.

GRAIN alleges that decisions on the GSV will be shared with the GCDT, a private entity with strong corporate funding which brings to the forefront all the ‘terrible controversies’ over access to and benefits from global agricultural biodiversity.

Trans-national seed corporations currently control over half of the world’s 30 billion US dollar yearly seed market, buying up many public plant-breeding programs that have governments relinquishing control over them. “The ultimate beneficiaries will thus be the very same corporations that are at the roots of crop-diversity destruction,” says a GRAIN publication.

But Cary Fowler, head of the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT), in charge of the GSV, says such criticism ‘’seriously misrepresents the purpose and workings of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, and portrays the GCDT in an inaccurate, misleading and unflattering manner.”

“The Seed Vault has been welcomed by over 165 countries and the Food and Agricultural Organizations (FAO)’s Commission on Genetic Resources, and it is already being used by developed and developing countries and by NGO seed savers (though not by corporations)”, said Fowler in an e-mail interview with IPS.

The GSV built into the Arctic permafrost, with a natural temperature of minus 6 degrees centigrade, some 1,000 km away from the North Pole, has three cold rooms further cooled to minus 18 degrees C and is capable of storing 4.5 million batches of seeds.

Should some major disaster hit world agriculture, such as a nuclear war or a natural disaster, countries could turn to what is popularly referred to as the ‘doomsday vault’, to pull out seeds and restart food production.

But there are many who are unhappy with the GSV continuing with existing in the science of agricultural conservation.

The Bangalore-based GREEN Foundation, which won the United Nations’ Equator Prize in 2004 for its work on seed conservation on farms through community seed-bank networks, run mainly by women, says the vault’s claim to protect genetic biodiversity is more ‘illusion than reality’.

“It is already a decade since the UNCED in Rio de Janeiro and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) realized that gene banks had their own limitations, starting from major power breakdowns, to excluding farmers’ access to these banks, to realising that seeds conserved under freeze conditions did not evolve when grown under changed environmental conditions,” Vanaja Ramprasad, founder-director of the GREEN Foundation told IPS. “It is a sad commentary on the science behind the assumption that the world’s food is secure inside a freezer,” she said.

NGOs like Green Foundation, GRAIN and the Hyderabad-based Deccan Development Society believe that involving farmers to grow seeds in their field, conserve and exchange these with others is the most secure method of conserving genetic diversity and resources.

In the last ten years, says Ramprasad, there have been worldwide efforts to collect germplasm and conserve them on farmers’ fields, breaking the notion that germplasm was meant only for breeding purposes. “This reinforced the fact that in situ conservation of germplasm was not only the food security of millions of the world’s population, but also identified as imperative to food sovereignty,” she said.

The Hyderabad-based Deccan Development Society (DDS), working in rural empowerment of poor dalit (the lowest caste in India’s social hierarchy) women, and conserving indigenous cereals such as millets, does not believe that the scientific community can save crop diversity by cold-storage systems.

“Global seed wealth can survive only in the farms and homes of global rural communities. The GSV takes away these seeds from the farmer and breaks the first link in the food chain,” says P.V. Satheesh, founder of DDS.

A depositor in the GSV currently is the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), run under the FAO and has approximately 15 global gene banks holding the world’s most widely-used food crops, under a legal trusteeship arrangement on behalf of the international community.

GRAIN faults CGIAR’s system as having excluded farmers totally from the trusteeship, a system being linked with the GSV which will give the CGIAR ‘almost exclusive’ access to the vault’s deposits.

Accessions from India and Asia are part of the collections from India’s Rice Research Institute and from the Hyderabad-based International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), under the aegis of CGIAR, that are to be locked in the GSV. “This vault is more the need of the life-sciences industry, known for its ‘pirating’ of farmers’ material and traditional knowledge,” said GRAIN’s Bhutani.

An ICRISAT press note says that the organization’s participation in the duplicate conservation of seeds in the vault gives increased protection to global agriculture from climate change. But the seeds or germplasm to be transferred by ICRISAT are those of hardy dryland sorghum, pearl millet, chickpea, pigeonpea, groundnut and six small millets that can withstand climate change.

Bhutani says that there are methods of conservation that should be adopted along with this strategy, adding that there is nothing on offer to believe that Svalbard will be invincible in its protection.

ICRISAT has given examples of protection offered through its 1,400-odd genebanks currently in operation in various countries. It says sorghum germplasm lost during civil wars in Ethiopia and Rwanda was replenished from the collection stored in its genebanks.

GRAIN recommends that governments first support their national farmers and markets, rather than international gene banks, leaving seeds in the hands of local farmers with their innovative farming and seed-exchange practices. Developing countries with agro-biodiversity assets need to safeguard their farmers’ interests before agreeing to corporate-controlled agricultural agreements, it said.

Fowler said the GCDT endorses the view that ex-situ and in-situ conservation are complementary.

© 2008 Inter Press Service

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50 Comments so far

  1. libertas fugit March 4th, 2008 11:57 am

    Considering the fact that that the GMO corporations are trying to put a gene sequence into their crops that will prevent germination of future seed and further are trying to get that introduced in such a way that it will infiltrate non GM crops.

    They contemptuously refer to farmers that save a part of their seed for future crops as “brown baggers.” If they succeed in their design, all farmers will have to buy their seed from the agribusiness giants, every year. The seed will be good for one crop, period.

    Greed anybody?

  2. BeForKids March 4th, 2008 12:01 pm

    I agree that we need both. We need seeds with their original genetic blueprint, considering all the GMO activity going on, and we need farmers continuing to care for seeds, and as we enter climate change, consider the evolving plant response and store the altered forms as well. We have challenges ahead and we don’t even know what they are yet. We can’t even keep up with the pace of climate change. Scientific predictions keep getting upended by unanticipated feedback loops being triggered.

    kathyodat

  3. PhysicsTeacherGuy March 4th, 2008 12:18 pm

    I agree with Kathy. Unless all of the seeds are going into the vault, which was not the original intention, it acts as a backup in case of a catastrophe. The best guardians are local farmers, but things ranging from drought and famine to asteroid strikes and uncontrolled GMO releases can threaten biodiversity too. The vault wasn’t meant as a control mechanism as much as an insurance policy. I think that it’s a good way to limit corporations releasing GMO’s, since they won’t now be able to get rid of all the seeds. Besides, most nations have their own seed banks, and this is going to supplement them rather than eliminate them. Wouldn’t it have been better to have had this a decade ago so when Iraq’s seed bank was destroyed we could recover some of the original biodiverse crops?
    Craig

  4. danielnolan March 4th, 2008 12:19 pm

    If we ever need to crack open that seed vault, I’m fairly confident that the poor Indian farmers will be long dead.

    They don’t call it the “Doomsday” vault because it’s a catchy name.

  5. truthmonger March 4th, 2008 12:30 pm

    Monsanto is probably already scheming ways to blow up the vault.

  6. cheencheen March 4th, 2008 1:02 pm

    I suspect the whole point is that corporations like Monsanto have control over the vault, so that if there is a catastrophe, we all depend on corporations and the governments they control to hand out the seeds. A great way to control populations is to control their food. So I think we should be keeping an eye on who has a say as to what happens with these seeds. It’s alarming that poor farmers are not being included. Also, it would be great if small farmers and co-ops all over the world start to coordinate and organize their own means of seed-sharing and seed-saving aside from the vault.

  7. grumpyoldlady March 4th, 2008 1:44 pm

    libertas fugit,

    “Considering the fact that that the GMO corporations are trying to put a gene sequence into their crops that will prevent germination of future seed and further are trying to get that introduced in such a way that it will infiltrate non GM crops.”

    This is not my area of expertise, so I need help understanding this. If the above statement is correct, doesn’t this eventually lead to extinction of the crop? I mean, if none of the crops produce seed, where does the company get seed for the farmers to buy every year? That just doesn’t seem to make sense, biologically speaking. Help! I don’t get it!

    I also wonder about the future of this Doomsday Vault, since it is clear that the Arctic permafrost is threatened by global warming. The whole thing may be an exercise in futility.

  8. PhysicsTeacherGuy March 4th, 2008 1:54 pm

    The article didn’t make this clear, but the intention is to have a set of seeds in “cold storage” in case of a catastrophe. After this, whatever form of government we have left will have to distribute it. Certainly if the catastrophe is more or less planned by some people or corporations, this would become a tool of increased control. Conversely, a 500m radius asteroid approaching from the sun would effectively dismantle all governments and corporations for centuries at least, and having some way to restore some of the biodiversity would be a godsend for our descendents. That’s why it’s up in the Svalbards - it would remain viable for centuries even without human maintenence, if need be.
    But the thing that some commenters seem to miss is that this is a vault where we (humanity) are storing seeds. It in no way replaces or pre-empts the need for local action to save and share seeds and crops. Many of us know that we can grow food that tastes like food or buy food-shaped cardboard at big stores, because those foods are grown for storage and portability, not taste and nutrition. Of the 8000 food crops that humanity has used, barely a hundred are at even the largest grocery store. Anyone who can should plant some plants, even if they’re not ones you can harvest, just to try and find some viable strains for your local climate. I just don’t see why there’s a perceived competition between local gathering and sharing on one hand, and a “global insurance policy” on the other. BTW, this idea was proposed decades ago, and has been in development since the 60’s. If it’s a plot to control our foods, it’s an old one.
    Craig

  9. willo March 4th, 2008 2:03 pm

    Isn’t the idea of the place to have something to fall back on when all the GM crops fail?
    I have a lot of resevations about genetically modified crops.

  10. vinlander March 4th, 2008 2:42 pm

    The Svalbard site is nothing more than backing up biological data. You hope you never need to fall back on it, but remember the last time your hard drive crashed?

  11. TheLorax March 4th, 2008 2:59 pm

    What is the point of this ‘vault’? Is it to replant after a nuclear holocaust? Replant where? Who’s gonna be left that knows how to care for these plants?
    This is a huge waste of money. If anyone should be in charge of seeds, it’s a farmer not a soldier.

  12. Robert L.Janes March 4th, 2008 3:18 pm

    Sometimes,things are simply as they appear on the surface and carry no
    sinister motive,for crying out loud!Should earth be hit by a large asteroid,
    engulfed by a volcanic cloud,whatever,doesn’t it make sense to have a viable source of seeds to start agriculture anew???There are plenty of real battles to be fought,no need to spend time looking under the bed for wing-nut monsters. Bob

  13. PhysicsTeacherGuy March 4th, 2008 3:19 pm

    Lorax, the point is to set something aside for posterity if nothing else. Consider the ways that might make this useful: A nuclear war, a devestating plant virus or pest (engineered or not), extreme famine devestating food crops, uncontrolled GM contamination of germ plasm lines, a large eruption (more like Tambora or the Yellowstone volcano than a firecracker like Pinatubo), human pressure on the ecosystem driving most plants to extinction deliberately or accidently, an over successfully engineered food crop that outcompetes too much native vegetation, an ecological collapse from some missing key species of plant or dependent insect or animal …
    It’s a sign that we know we’re not omniscient, which is a long overdue admission on our part.

  14. normvincent March 4th, 2008 3:31 pm

    If the Hindu folks, or others, want to put up seed to prepare for the inevitable, let them make their OWN vault in the Himalayas, instead of pissing away their scarce resources on Nuclear Weapons. It is amazing what a (non-nuclear) peaceful country - like Norway - has done with their tax dollars. Thanks Norwegians !

  15. kara.korum March 4th, 2008 3:44 pm

    NGOs and farmers in developing countries are and should be appropriately suspicious of storing genetic material in developed countries. Amazonian tribes, peruvian potato farmers, indian rice farmers with knowledge gleaned from centuries of trial and error, have seen native plant diversity exploited by governments(including their own) and corporations, with little benefit to them.guarantees and treaties are not worth the paper they are published on, disregarded at will. With so much legal input on wording , one would think that their is agreement on the basic principles, but not so. Western patent systems allow patenting of traditional medicines used for centuries/ and sometimes millenia in their countries of origin.
    is their any reason to believe this is not another attempt to rob indigenous people of their heritage?

  16. Ken Nuti March 4th, 2008 3:51 pm

    I wonder what varieties of hemp and marijuana have been archived in this vault?

  17. KEM PATRICK March 4th, 2008 4:01 pm

    Just the good ones.

  18. rtdrury March 4th, 2008 4:17 pm

    grumpyoldlady, to manufacture public dependence on concentrated power, the capitalists create hybrid seed which grow into plants with commercial traits, mainly to maximize yield through dependence on commercial inputs, but also to ensure that the saved seed do not carry forth the commercial traits. They establish in their “proprietary fields” various inbred lines of seed which replicate desirable traits through self-pollination. Cross-pollinating two of these lines produces hybrid seed with the commercial traits. This may include traits not present in the inbred lines. The important thing to the capitalist is that these commercial traits are not reliably replicated in the seed of these plants.

    Terminator/suicide/GURT seed include the trait that their progeny seed will not reliably germinate. Activists are holding up this scheme on grounds that these plants’ pollen can drift out of the field, contaminate other plants with this destructive trait.

    Progressives can propose that the capitalists engineer genetic isolation into all their seeds, so their pollen is rejected by wild plants and open-pollinated heirlooms. The capitalists could have their own species - capitalist corn (TM), capitalist beans (TM), capitalist rice (TM), etc. Since they like building walls, let them build walls that serve the public interest.

  19. mwf March 4th, 2008 4:25 pm

    Give the ditchweed to the NGOs to make rope to hang themselves. The “good” stuff will be for profit.

  20. dustinchicago March 4th, 2008 4:26 pm

    Might the point be to allow this to be said: “We do not need to pay much attention to or invest in Global Seed Wealth, because we now have this nifty new Seed Vault, which was at first a really aultruistic idea by good people until they asked us at Monsanto/Congres for participation and funding. But since we got it, why don’t all you goverments just collect seeds and research for us.”

    I’m predictably going to go with GRAIN on this one. (I know it’s not a problem now, but just look around at all the similiar situations that became problems and how hard it is to deal with them.) and Fuck NAFTA too.

  21. unkanny March 4th, 2008 4:45 pm

    What I got out of the article is that people are mad that any farmer can’t access any seed. This is really a problem between them and their local seed bank. The vault is for seed banks and nations, not every individual farmer on the face of the earth. The vault makes a nice target but if it didn’t exist, the seeds would still be under the authority of a group that GRAIN doesn’t like.

    Any good bank keeps copies offsite.

    > The seed will be good for one crop, period.
    Basically already true of hybrids. I let some hybrid carrots go to seed and planted the seed. I grew lousy carrots before but the hybrid’s seeds were truly lousy. The open pollenated lettuce were fine.

  22. Paul Bramscher March 4th, 2008 4:57 pm

    I think there’s a misunderstanding about the purpose of this seed vault. A product of a modern westernized country to guard against climate change, nuclear war, last for centuries, etc.

    This is NOT the same thing as heirlooming your own seed, participating in a seed exchange, or small mail-order company. Bottom line, if you want heirloom seeds TAKE CHARGE YOURSELF, don’t rely on some distant government’s arctic circle plan.

  23. old goat March 4th, 2008 4:59 pm

    The emperor has no clothes. The seeds being saved exist within a complex life context of soil biology and vast interconnection of dynamics. All the seeds in the world mean nothing if the context for which they are saved does not exist having been poisoned. It is to claim vast resources for a project based on calling a brick a house. In the mean time the corporate paradigm lays waste quite literally.

    Think about the notion of ‘virgin’ forest. In the Amazon for example, what has existed for thousands of years is largely the result of the presence of indigenous peoples. It is the reflection of a SOCIAL balance with nature. Many of us are learning about permaculture - it is not new. It is a social perspective on being in nature.

    Science is about describing what exists based on sustaining a continuous thread of reasoning. A series of articles about the anthropology of science would be most beneficial.

  24. ArbeitMachtFrei March 4th, 2008 6:56 pm

    Playing God - Part III

    First, they select the seeds…

    Then, they select the people, most likely white, blonde, Nordic types…

    Then, they….

  25. Jack Carrell March 4th, 2008 7:32 pm

    Why dosen’t some one give me the names and or contact some one with the finances to support my theorys……. doooms day is comming … but there is a way out ahead of this destruction. like one fellow said, seeds,,,, shit.. we better be some place besidses here. I have the answers,, I have the plan to keep our asses alive and well…. c’omon lets get together. lets start a plan of salvation…. After all thats what our creator wants……. we have the ability, we have the knowledge. all it takes is unity of us as a group.

  26. RuthK March 4th, 2008 7:38 pm

    grumpyoldlady asked

    Considering the fact that that the GMO
    corporations are trying to put a gene
    sequence into their crops that will
    prevent germination of future seed and
    further are trying to get that introduced
    in such a way that it will infiltrate non
    GM crops.

    This is not my area of expertise, so I
    need help understanding this. If the
    above statement is correct, doesn’t this
    eventually lead to extinction of the
    crop? I mean, if none of the crops
    produce seed, where does the company get
    seed for the farmers to buy every year?
    That just doesn’t seem to make sense,
    biologically speaking. Help! I don’t get
    it!

    The point is that, each year, farmers have to buy seeds from Monsanto. This gives Monsanto a lot of control over food. Moreover, the seeds are engineered to require the use of their Roundup Ready, which also brings in more profit.

    Check out

    http://organicconsumers.org

    and look at “Monsanto watch”.

    This is not my area of expertise, so I need help understanding this. If the above statement is correct, doesn’t this eventually lead to extinction of the crop? I mean, if none of the crops produce seed, where does the company get seed for the farmers to buy every year? That just doesn’t seem to make sense, biologically speaking. Help! I don’t get it!

  27. lizard March 4th, 2008 8:36 pm

    grumpy old lady: In case you didn’t see the answer to your question, the seeds that were used to make the modified one are still available and they are not sterile.

  28. abuelito March 4th, 2008 8:41 pm

    I also am not well enough informed about this but I do know who is- a wonderful woman nmed Vandana Shiva. here’s her website:

    http://www.navdanya.org/

  29. GreatGooglyMoogly March 4th, 2008 8:43 pm

    I think the idea behind the vault is to have something to grow food with after the apocalypse. The private farmers won’t be around to worry about access. Aside from that, I saw video of representatives of the vault collecting seeds from private farmers.

  30. empirePie March 4th, 2008 9:01 pm

    My Lexus Epiphany

    Good better bestus got me in the rhinal cortex
    while I drove my Lexus to the state of Texas
    I paused…hey could this be that perfect moment..
    time seemed to stop as I plied the pavement
    silence and awe filled me…
    when a gentle rumble by my solar plexus
    stirred me in my posh yet humble Lexus
    hey is this that perfect moment …. an epiphany of sorts?
    Ah but of course
    We should plow this freeway back into something useful
    like acreage for squash or spuds or huff free hemp

  31. atelios March 4th, 2008 10:13 pm

    MY GOD!! The farmer’s are not getting to store their seeds in the worlds Global Seed Vault! Stop the missiles! We better not go forward with the planned nuclear holocaust!

    All joking aside, it IS a vehicle to explore the kind of dangers we are up against. If people find out we are storing seeds because we think some catastrophe might happen, and then this leads them to find out about Monsanto’s terminator seeds, well maybe the GSV really WILL save the seeds!

  32. kalia March 4th, 2008 10:15 pm

    This is no way to prepare for Armageddon, it would be much better to prepare for the second coming than to squander what little time there is before the inevitable happens in such hair brained schemes like “seed vault”.

  33. armchair March 5th, 2008 12:22 am

    great comments.. yeah, if u farm or garden, best take so e resposibility for maintaining sustainable seed diversity ourselves.. as bioregional individuals and communities

  34. lunaticfringe March 5th, 2008 12:35 am

    It appears from the backing that this seedbank is a nice-fronted hedge fund.
    I can imagine many scenarios where, whether by climate change, abuse of the environment, or spread of gmo genes, disappearance of the traditional cultivars will leave the seeds in the vault as legal justification for the ownership of the genetic material in the seeds.
    Its just good business.

    “Trans-national seed corporations currently control over half of the world’s 30 billion US dollar yearly seed market, buying up many public plant-breeding programs that have governments relinquishing control over them. “The ultimate beneficiaries will thus be the very same corporations that are at the roots of crop-diversity destruction,””
    Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), run under the FAO and has approximately 15 global gene banks holding the world’s most widely-used food crops, under a legal trusteeship arrangement on behalf of the international community.
    GRAIN faults CGIAR’s system as having excluded farmers totally from the trusteeship, a system being linked with the GSV which will give the CGIAR ‘almost exclusive’ access to the vault’s deposits.

  35. matti March 5th, 2008 1:52 am

    To Hoarde or to Share, that is the Question.

    another question is more “media aware”:

    Why am I being presented with this information?

    -matti

  36. Vera Gottlieb March 5th, 2008 3:44 am

    I smelled a rat the moment I read somewhere, that MONSANTO was involved with this. Haven’t been able to find this particular article again.

  37. Words Are Important March 5th, 2008 3:47 am

    This is the reality,

    Seeds are now being genetically modified to control food and increase profit. After it ruins the food supply, the people who control the seed bank will again control food. It is the same companies, Monsanto etc.

    They are hitting us with both ends of the stick.

  38. wiredwilly March 5th, 2008 8:39 am

    Dr. StrangeSeed.
    Something tells me the basic idea is total World Domination.
    Control money through Central Banks and replace tangible currency with electronic data, control access to the Media, control genetically modified food, and ultimately plant nanotechnology in microchips that control everyone and shut off their entire life if you question their authority to enslave you. If that fails it wouldn’t surprise me if the Global Money Trust has built an underground, earthquake proof, nuke proof, living facility as well and plans to Nuke the rest of us, live underground for a generation, and when it’s safe to come out of these high tech rat holes out come running thousands of genetically ” pure” aryan Neocons. This whole deal gives me the creeps. Maybe they’ re keeping Hitler frozen somewhere and planting his DNA in the seeds.

  39. jclientelle March 5th, 2008 8:58 am

    Will they store some farmers in the vault too?

  40. chessgames56 March 5th, 2008 10:09 am

    Ironically, Monsanto may wind up starving itself! More and more, we are becoming a race of intelligent fools.

  41. dixondan March 5th, 2008 10:44 am

    Check out Globalresearch.ca Report by f.william engdahl. Titled “doomsday seed vault” in the artic. Gates,rockefeller,and the GMO giants know something we don`t. This will tell you who and what`s behind this vault.

  42. Paul Bramscher March 5th, 2008 11:30 am

    Fortunately, we’re not all helpless dolts — and whatever the seed vault accomplishes it does NOT preclude anyone else from doing the same.

    Anyone who thinks we’re doomed because Norway won’t play by everyone’s rules is apparently trying to categorize the remainder of the world as helpless idiots, utterly dependent on others. If you’re worried, start heirlooming your own seed. I planted a ~200 year-old variety of German beans last summer in my garden. There are people who keep heirlooms alive, and they aren’t 100,000 miles away in the Arctic Circle.

  43. mugwump March 5th, 2008 11:36 am

    “GRAIN says the GSV’s ex-situ storage system takes unique plant varieties away from farming communities that originally created, selected, protected and shared the seeds.”

    It seems more likely they are taking them away for safekeeping, not for commercialisation. In fact they may well be saving these varieties from extinction– in which case future farmers will thank them. If this were some commercial plot, I think we would see more fingerprints on it.

    And in fact extinction will not necessarily come at the hand of climate change. Far more likely will be the continuing extinction of local varieties from globalization, as food sources become corporatised and converted into the intellectual property of the very few.

    My advice: be glad someone is doing this. Without it, thousands of heirloom varieties will undoubtedly be lost to all of us. Paranoia may be useful in some instances. But if there is no global seed bank, our grandchildren are all certain to lose.

  44. Paul Bramscher March 5th, 2008 12:01 pm

    My advice to those wholly who are dependent on others: If you think you’re getting a raw deal from Norway, then HEIRLOOM SEEDS YOURSELF. Many plants propagate assexually as well. It’s not as wise environmentally, because it creates a clone, but that’s another possibility.

    I’ve beem heirlooming my own marigold seed for about 7 years now. I started with yellows and reds. Now have oranges, orange centers with yellow tips, and yellow centers with orange tips. My own hybrids.

    Anyone who seeds a problem with the world’s seed supply should get off his posterior, do a little of his/her own gardening, start networking with others, etc.

  45. Eons March 5th, 2008 12:03 pm

    “Who controls the food supply controls the people;
    who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.”
    ~Henry Kissinger
    ———————————-

    “Today, America would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order. Tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told that there were an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence…It is then that all peoples of the world will plead to deliver them from this evil. The on thing every man fears is the unknown.

    When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by the World Government.”
    — Dr. Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s Secretary of State, addressing the Bilderberger Conference, Evian, France (1991)

  46. merryoldsoul March 5th, 2008 12:09 pm

    We’r all doomed,
    and if it is a big blast and we pop inside out like a blown rubber, the vortex of our black hole will surly not be enough to hurt the doomsday vault
    let alone if their are survivers, will they be able to find the vault

  47. cavewoman@100 March 5th, 2008 12:48 pm

    We are not all doomed! Get off yer butts and go forth and grow food and flowers and anything you can get your hands on and SAVE THE SEEDS! Choose open-pollinated varieties and plant ‘em and keep at it year after year. Wrest the control back from these freaks and tend to our future!

  48. judi March 5th, 2008 1:50 pm

    Let all countries build their own vaults because what with the way the elections are going in the U.S., the danger of continued war with weapons of mass desruction is not far behind. No matter what you try to do with reason will be criticized. It’s the unreasonable, irrational folk who get away with their illogical banter, who never prepare for the worst, and who lack the common sense to realize the truth in any matter.

  49. vdb March 5th, 2008 3:22 pm

    is anybody working on a bee vault?

  50. asymptotic March 6th, 2008 8:02 am

    These people should get real and stop seeing conspiracies all over the place. If a farmer, that noble, gentle creature, living in perfect harmony with his environment and community, seeds plants and notices that the guy on the neighboring farm gets higher yields with his variety, he will switch to the new variety for his own selfish reasons and usually not because of some sinister plot of multinational corporations. This is human behavior and it gives rise to loss of diversity. Local conservation is fantastic, national gene banks are great, but unfortunately catastrophes do happen, electricity fails, countries get invaded etc. etc. We should be grateful that this kind of backup system has been created! If seeds for some plant are stored in Norway, what is it that is supposedly “taken away” from the local farmers. They are totally free to continue their local conservation efforts and also, unfortunately, local DEconservation efforts.

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