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How Seed Banks Grow And Protect The Food Of Tomorrow

By Desirée Kaplan

One of the most important types of banks in the world have nothing to do with saving money. In fact, their contents have very little monetary value when they are deposited. 

Seed banks store the future of global food security with libraries of agricultural material in their vaults. While some say that seed banking is not a perfect solution because it essentially freezes evolution, many scientists consider it to be our best chance for survival in case the worst should happen. 

Since about 8000 B.C., crops have been crucial for many communities. Evidence of seed banks can even be traced as far back as 6750 B.C. when our ancestors needed to protect seeds from animals and unexpected extreme weather changes. Today, seed banking is still used as an insurance tool, and the system works like a bank’s safety account. 

In modern seed banks, seeds are deposited for safekeeping until needed for withdrawal in the future. Some of these seeds can remain operable for decades if they are properly maintained. While collection and storage systems vary among seed banks and individual seeds, the scientists generally go through the painstaking task of collecting the right seeds, recording those seed details, allocating it a number and freezing the seeds in a special process. 

But why go through all this trouble? Seed banking is still practiced for many reasons including political uncertainties, overpopulation, and environmental changes. 

Seed banks can help countries in need.

Political discord is unfortunately still a common problem around the world. The importance of international seed banks during wartime has recently been brought to light during the current Syrian conflict. The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, a vital seed bank based in Aleppo, would have lost valuable seeds without the aid of an international seed bank that helped take the seeds just before war destroyed the area.