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Knowledgebase record #300


Seeds on Ice by Cary Fowler, 2016

Reviewed by: Brian Thompson
Review date: 2017-03-01

In this morning’s edition of “The Seattle Times” (February 24, 2017), I was interested to see an Associated Press article by Matti Huuhtanen about an “Arctic ‘doomsday’ seed vault.” This refers to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault that is also the subject of a new book in the Miller Library, Seeds on Ice.

The Miller Seed Vault, located in the Douglas Research Conservatory, is the largest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and preserves more than 320 rare plant species from Washington. By comparison, the Svalbard Vault has over 4,000 species of food or agriculture crops from around the world. For most species, the vault also protects many, many selected varieties.

This book tells the short history (it opened in 2008) of the Svalbard Vault, its operations, and its location in the far north of Norway (with many stark and beautiful photographs). It also tells the chilling story of its first withdrawal by an agricultural research institution in Syria, that fortunately sent seeds to Svalbard just before hostilities erupted in that country. Fortunately, those withdrawn seeds are now being grown outside of Syria to replenish the original stock.

Published in the March 2017 Leaflet for Scholars.


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