About halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole where natural conditions ensure optimal storage temperatures, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault sits as the world’s most important library of seed samples. It’s designed as something of a backup disk for the global food supply, where an extraordinary diversity of crucial crops can be retrieved if these resources are lost at regular genebanks.
In honor of its fifteenth anniversary in late February 2023, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault opened its doors to new seed deposits; and in honor of World Pulses Day on 10 February (pulses being edible seeds such as lentils and beans), we commemorated the two occasions in one by speaking with Åsmund Asdal, who coordinates the Vault’s operations and management.
In this special GLF Live, we explore what resides in the vault’s chambers, the importance of the Seed Vault’s mission and upcoming deposit, and what this all could mean for the world’s food future.
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Åsmund Asdal is a Norwegian horticulturist and ecologist who, for the past 25 years, has been working with projects on conservation and use of plant genetic resources (PGR) on a national and Nordic regional level. Asdal has been involved in Nordic plant genetic resource activities from the mid-1990s. He has been a board member and conducted projects and working groups within the Nordic Gene Bank, from 2008 re-organized into the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre (NordGen). From 2015 he has been employed at NordGen as Coordinator of Operation and Management of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
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