Rhodes Graduates Reap Benefits from Decade-Long Ties to Global Seed Vault
30 March 2023
Food security affects everyone from farmers to scientists, economists to elected officials, and nutritionists to consumers. In a snow-capped mountain located between mainland Norway and the North Pole is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which opened in 2008 and houses more than 1.1 million seed samples from the world’s crop collections as a safeguard against catastrophic or accidental loss. Included are eggplant, lettuce, potato, rice, barley, maize, chickpea, lentil, sorghum, and wheat samples, just to name a few.
Gene banks from around the world that keep seed collections have made deposits into the Seed Vault, which stores the seeds at steady below-freezing temperatures in sealed three-ply foil packages that are sealed inside boxes. If something happens to a gene bank due to war, a natural disaster, pest, disease, or even human error, there are duplicates in the facilities’ samples that could also be used one day in developing new crop varieties.
Rhodes College fellows have served for a decade on the staff of the Global Crop Diversity Trust (Crop Trust), which provides support for the Seed Vault’s ongoing operations, and Dr. Cary Fowler ’71 served as executive director of the Crop Trust from 2005 to 2012.