A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
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Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Posted 7:13 PM by Tevita
Doomsday Vault for World's Seeds Is Opened Under Arctic Mountain
By Lewis Smith
The Times Online
Wednesday 27 February 2008
Ten tonnes of seeds were deposited hundreds of feet inside a frozen mountain yesterday as part of a scheme to preserve all the world's crops.
Seeds from varieties of potatoes, barley, lettuce, aubergines, black-eyed pea, sorghum and wheat were among the first to be placed in the doomsday vault inside the Arctic circle.
A specially prepared box of rice originating from 104 countries was the first to be deposited in the vault, where it will be kept at minus 18C (minus 0.4F). Thousands more species will be added as organisers attempt to get specimens of every agricultural plant in the world.
Three chambers have been built 125 metres (400 feet) inside a mountain close to the town of Longyear-byen in Svalbard, a Norwegian island about 500 miles (800 kilometres) from the North Pole.
An opening ceremony was conducted at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, as 100 million seeds from more than 100 countries were placed inside. The first day's deposits comprised 268,000 samples and filled 676 boxes.
The project is intended to provide a failsafe against disaster so that if a seed collection is destroyed in its natural habitat there is an alternative source of supply. Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which is behind the initiative, said that by preserving as many varieties as possible the options open to farmers, scientists and governments were maximised. "The opening of the seed vault marks a historic turning point in safeguarding the world's crop diversity," he said.
Many varieties of seed kept in the vault are no longer used commercially but it is possible that they will prove invaluable as world conditions change,.
The facility has been designed to keep seeds safely frozen for centuries and, at 130 metres up, the mountain is high enough to be safe even from catastrophic rises in sea levels. Similarly, amid the worst levels of global warming, in which the permafrost of the Arctic island would start melting, the seeds will be safe for up to 200 years.
Jens Stoltenberg, the Norwegian Prime Minister, said: "With climate change and other forces threatening the diversity of life that sustains our planet, Norway is proud to be playing a central role in creating a facility capable of protecting what are not just seeds, but the fundamental building blocks of human civilisation."
During the opening ceremony he unlocked the vault and, helped by Professor Wangari Maathai, the Nobel prize-winning environmentalist, placed the first seeds inside. Politicians and experts from around the world attended the ceremony at the vault, which is big enough to store 4.5 million samples, adding up to 2 billion seeds.
Some seeds will be viable for a millennium or more, including barley, which can last 2,000 years, wheat 1,700 years, and sorghum almost 20,000 years. Dr Maathai said: "The significant public interest in the seed vault project indicates that collectively we are changing the way we think about environmental conservation."
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