Director of the Estonian Crop Research Institute Mati Koppel and director of the Nordic Genetic Resource Center, Lise Lykke Steffensen, signed an agreement on Friday on depositing a duplicate stock of the seeds kept at the Estonian Crop Research Institute in the Global Seed Vault in the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic.
Külli Annamaa, manager of the genetic resource stock of the Estonian Crop Research Institute, said that keeping a duplicate stock in the Global Seed Vault on the island of Spitsbergen will make it possible to retrieve seeds and use them again in the event the main stock is destroyed, or under similarly extraordinary circumstances.
"Keeping a duplicate stock in the Spitsbergen seed vault will help ensure the preservation of the diversity in terms of species, and the variety of the genetic resource of the agricultural crops of Estonian origin as cultural heritage of humankind," head of the Ministry of Rural Affairs' department for research and development, Külli Kaare, said.
The vault preserves some 900,000 seed samples of more than 5,000 plant species, provided by 73 national, regional, and international seed banks and research organizations. The seeds, duplicates of samples stored in hundreds of seed banks around the world, are an insurance against the loss of genetic diversity that could occur if the seeds in those facilities were destroyed.
The Global Seed Vault has been built to accommodate 4.5 million seed samples.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault offers "fail-safe" protection for one of the most important natural resources on Earth. The conditions offered by the seed vault allow for the germination capacity of seeds to be preserved for at least 50 years.
The project will be ten years old in February 2018. "We hope that on the occasion of the anniversary the one million sample mark will be crossed. We would like Estonia to contribute as well to help achieve that goal," Annamaa said.
The seeds of crop plants, grass plants, legumes, and vegetables of Estonian origin will be transported to Spitsbergen in air-tight and vapor-proof foil packages in January next year.
The operating costs of the Global Seed Vault are covered by the Crop Trust, an international non-profit organization that works to preserve crop diversity in order to protect global food security. Depositing samples in the vault is free of charge for individual seed banks.
Editor: Dario Cavegn