Scientists are scouring the world in search of the seeds that could save humanity from a climate-related "doomsday."
Global Crop Diversity Trust experts are looking for food crops that may not be in vogue now, but which may have traits -- like drought-resistance or salt-tolerance -- that could be godsend-scale useful as global warming alters precipitation patterns around the world.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault -- better known as the Doomsday Seed Vault -- could be the world's best insurance policy.
Dug into a mountain on an island in the Norwegian Arctic, the seed vault will safeguard the genetic diversity of the world's food crops. It's started a grant program to develop screening techniques for identifying "climate-ready" varieties of seeds in developing nations. The trust is also funding existing seed vaults that meet high standards for seed preservation, and paying to cultivate its crops in 60 nations so as to maintain the viability of the vault's stores in perpetuity.
"The contents of our genebankssome 1.5 million distinct samplesare the result of a 13,000-year experiment in the interaction between crops and environment, climate and culture," said Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. "If we are wise enough to conserve these collections, we will have a treasure chest of the very traits that crops used in the past when they successfully adapted to new conditionsthe traits they will need again in the future to adapt as climates and environments change."
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