Opened in 2008, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in northern Norway is a backup for the world’s 1,750 seed banks, storehouses of agricultural biodiversity. To illustrate the need for it, the Philippines’ national seed bank was destroyed by fire in January, six years after it was damaged by flooding. Those of Afghanistan and Iraq were destroyed in recent wars.
Yet seed banks are not the only answer to saving crop biodiversity: it also needs conserving in fields. This is because seed banks rarely store varieties of crops that do not produce seeds, including cassava, bananas and many other fruits and berries.
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