Food Ark: Will Seed Banks Save Our Sources of Food?

“Experts estimate that we have lost more than half of the world’s food varieties over the past century”. Charles Siebert writes in National Geographic:

Svalbard Vault Mountain (Cutaway). Illustration: Global Crop Diversity Trust

Svalbard Vault Mountain (Cutaway). Illustration: Global Crop Diversity Trust

A crisis is looming: To feed our growing population, we’ll need to double food production. Yet crop yields aren’t increasing fast enough, and climate change and new diseases threaten the limited varieties we’ve come to depend on for food. Luckily we still have the seeds and breeds to ensure our future food supply — but we must take steps to save them.

Six miles outside the town of Decorah, Iowa, an 890-acre stretch of rolling fields and woods called Heritage Farm is letting its crops go to seed. It seems counterintuitive, but then everything about this farm stands in stark contrast to the surrounding acres of neatly rowed corn and soybean fields that typify modern agriculture. Heritage Farm is devoted to collecting rather than growing seeds. It is home to the Seed Savers Exchange, one of the largest nongovernment-owned seed banks in the United States.

Story continues at National Geographic.

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  • JoiquimCouteau

    No; vertical farming, aeroponics, mirrors, fruit trees, and a viable alternative to refrigeration will save ‘our’ food supply. Which is precisely why none of these are widely used (with the exception of aeroponics, for cannabis).

  • Anonymous

    No; vertical farming, aeroponics, mirrors, fruit trees, and a viable alternative to refrigeration will save ‘our’ food supply. Which is precisely why none of these are widely used (with the exception of aeroponics, for cannabis).

  • Anarchy Pony

    Boy, these idiot motherfuckers just won’t let go of their dumbass infinite growth paradigm. 

    I think I’m going to go kill myself. This planet is fucked. 

  • Anarchy Wolf

    Boy, these idiot motherfuckers just won’t let go of their dumbass infinite growth paradigm. 

    I think I’m going to go kill myself. This planet is fucked. 

  • Hadrian999

    that looks like my dream home

  • Hadrian999

    that looks like my dream home

  • jackedu317

     seed banks won’t save us because their not meant to…

  • jackedu317

     seed banks won’t save us because their not meant to…

  • http://profiles.google.com/epicfloyd Drexel Floyd

    Food is running out because people are all obsessed with “Oooorgaaaaniiiiiic” food nowadays, so farmers are growing those.  The problem?  They yield several TIMES less than those bad, bad genetically enhanced foods, are far more fragile, and therefore require far more land to grow (goodbye Amazon).  Basically they have no real upside.  I’m mostly talking about plants though, I don’t know anything about genetically altering or chemically treating animals.

  • http://profiles.google.com/epicfloyd Drexel Floyd

    Food is running out because people are all obsessed with “Oooorgaaaaniiiiiic” food nowadays, so farmers are growing those.  The problem?  They yield several TIMES less than those bad, bad genetically enhanced foods, are far more fragile, and therefore require far more land to grow (goodbye Amazon).  Basically they have no real upside.  I’m mostly talking about plants though, I don’t know anything about genetically altering or chemically treating animals.

    Keep in mind there is more than one way to genetically modify crops for greater output, as not all are safe (or cheap $$$).

    • jackedu317

      i’m sure it has nothing to do with farmers being paid NOT to grow crops, or dumping excess yeilds in the garbage to keep prices high… the reason people want “organic” or NATURAL food is because anything created in a lab lacks nutritional value, and has tons of horrible side effects.

    • jackedu317

      i’m sure it has nothing to do with farmers being paid NOT to grow crops, or dumping excess yeilds in the garbage to keep prices high… the reason people want “organic” or NATURAL food is because anything created in a lab lacks nutritional value, and has tons of horrible side effects.

  • Fuckeyou

    I’ve got a solution. Kill some motherfuckers, we are overpopulated. 

  • Fuckeyou

    I’ve got a solution. Kill some motherfuckers, we are overpopulated. 

  • jackedu317

    i’m sure it has nothing to do with farmers being paid NOT to grow crops, or dumping excess yeilds in the garbage to keep prices high… the reason people want “organic” or NATURAL food is because anything created in a lab lacks nutritional value, and has tons of horrible side effects.

  • Guest

    Perhaps, not Likely.

  • Guest

    Perhaps, not Likely.

  • Heald

    except for the fact that the RAFI study Siebert relies upon has been
    discredited and recent studies show an increase in crop diversity in the
    twentieth century and his apple data is completely incorrect . . . to
    see the raw numbers that he misses check out:  “Crop Diversity Report
    Card for the Twentieth Century: Diversity Bust or Diversity Boom?” at
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1462917 and “Apple
    Diversity Report Card” at
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1543336.

  • Heald

    except for the fact that the RAFI study Siebert relies upon has been
    discredited and recent studies show an increase in crop diversity in the
    twentieth century and his apple data is completely incorrect . . . to
    see the raw numbers that he misses check out:  “Crop Diversity Report
    Card for the Twentieth Century: Diversity Bust or Diversity Boom?” at
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1462917 and “Apple
    Diversity Report Card” at
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1543336.

  • Heald

    except for the fact that the RAFI study Siebert relies upon has been
    discredited and recent studies show an increase in crop diversity in the
    twentieth century and his apple data is completely incorrect . . . to
    see the raw numbers that he misses check out:  “Crop Diversity Report
    Card for the Twentieth Century: Diversity Bust or Diversity Boom?” at
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1462917 and “Apple
    Diversity Report Card” at
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1543336.

  • Heald

    except for the fact that the RAFI study Siebert relies upon has been
    discredited and recent studies show an increase in crop diversity in the
    twentieth century and his apple data is completely incorrect . . . to
    see the raw numbers that he misses check out:  “Crop Diversity Report
    Card for the Twentieth Century: Diversity Bust or Diversity Boom?” at
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1462917 and “Apple
    Diversity Report Card” at
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1543336.

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