Ex situ: The Svalbard Global Seed Vault
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a frozen vault deep inside a mountain on the arctic archipelago of Svalbard, where genebanks from all around the world store duplicate, back-up, copies of their seed collections.
The Vault is the global apex of ex situ approaches to crop biodiversity conservation. The aim of the Vault is to offer safe-keeping and some insurance for ex situ collections of crop seeds currently held in genebanks against threats they can be vulnerable to; threats such as technical failure (e.g. power outages and freezing problems), natural disasters (e.g. fire and floods) and socio-political unrest (e.g. armed conflict and war).
The Vault opened for operation in 2008 and now houses over 860,000 different samples of more than 5000 species originating from more than 230 countries and deposited by over 60 institutes from around the world.
The biodiverSEEDy project is researching how the Svalbard Global Seed Vault operates - including both its management policies and practices, and its founding narrative and underlying ideals. The project also has a particular interest in how the Vault relates to in situ approaches and whether genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have a place in crop biodiversity conservation.
This component of the project involves interdisciplinary qualitative research synthesizing knowledge from a range of relevant fields, such as conservation biology, genetics, plant breeding, international law, politics and philosophy.
More information and some results from this part of the project can be read here.