Preserving the Seeds of Today for the Food of Tomorrow

From foodtank.com, by Jessica Wright
Preserving the Seeds of Today for the Food of Tomorrow

In the upcoming documentary “Seeds of Time,” Cary Fowler, former Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, must work quickly to protect the world’s food supply from the perils of climate change. With the loss of crop diversity, Fowler proclaims, “agriculture is in danger. The whole world is in danger.” He traces the problem back to the adoption of industrial agriculture, the growing population, and climate change. Determined to sustain the future of agriculture, Fowler embarks on a journey to preserve the diversity of food crops that remain in seed banks throughout the world.

Seed banks maintain seed collections that contain the genetic resources to enable agriculture to adapt to changing climate conditions. However, seed banks face the risk of devastating destruction by natural catastrophes. In Peru, irregular weather patterns are eradicating potato varieties that have existed for ten thousand years. In Southeast Asia, a seed bank that held thousands of rice accessions was completely destroyed by extreme flooding. When a seed bank is destroyed, the loss of those crop varieties is irreversible. 

“Most of us take seeds for granted. The fate of human kind is resting on these genetic resources: Seeds. So nothing could be more important,” says Fowler.

With support from the Global Crop Diversity Trust, Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen), and the Norwegian government, Cary Fowler founded the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a fail safe seed storage facility that safeguards the world’s largest collection of crop diversity. Located deep within the permafrost of the Norwegian Arctic, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, or “doomsday vault,” is impervious to natural disasters. The vault aggregates seeds from the global network of seed banks; thus, creating a seed reserve that holds duplicate seed collections in the event that a seed bank is damaged.

Filmmaker Sandy Mcleod, is no novice to filmmaking, but “Seeds of Time” is her first feature length documentary film. This captivating film brings the issue of crop diversity to the forefront of public discourse.

“Our food system is not sustainable or secure and this is a problem that affects us all,” says Mcleod. “Without a good agricultural foundation we can’t have sustainable agriculture and without sustainable agriculture, we will not have a sustainable future.”

“Seeds of Time” will be released nationwide on May 22, 2015.