The eyes of the world – or at least the press – were on Svalbard last week. But it was future destruction, not the avalanche that destroyed homes and the psyche of residents, that generated headlines.
And most of the lamestream media buried the most interesting aspect of that “other” story.
Nearly 50,000 seed samples were deposited into the Svalbard Global Seed Vault a few days before its ninth birthday. While media reports noted it’s one of the largest deposits ever, many waited until the end of their coverage – or didn’t mention at all – that seeds include 53 of the 128 crates from the vault’s first “withdrawal” to help Syria after its gene banks were destroyed. Seeds were sown in nearby areas and the resulting new seeds allowed the redeposit.
“We are demonstrating today that we can rely on our genebanks and their safety duplications, despite adverse circumstances, so we can get one step closer to a food secure world,” said Aly Abousabaa, the director general of ICARDA, the agency that withdrew the seeds.
The “doomsday vault” tends to generate quirky headlines and references due to its nickname, and references to last week’s deposit suggested it occurred “because everything is awful” and because people are panicking about the upcoming nuclear holocaust triggered by U.S. President Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, a scan of a few dozen online articles revealed none dug up an interesting tidbit about the so-called ultimate seed safeguard: the facility is receiving some significant structural upgrades because water has been leaking into it during recent severe storms (the leakage hasn’t reached where the seeds are actually stored, but officials had to scramble when the water knocked out the power last October).
There are now nearly one million seed samples from more than 4,000 species in the vault. The most recent deposit of 123 crates includes 56 Mexico, 29 from Lebanon and 24 from Morocco. Nine other countries are also depositing seeds including one crate from Burma, which deposited a crate with 230 endangered species of orchids after Norway’s royal couple visited the country in 2014 and offered a space in the vault for the seeds.