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Earth Technology

How the Global Seed Vault Aims To Fight Future Famine 115

Lanxon writes "The Global Seed Vault opened in 2008 after engineers spent a year drilling and blasting through the sandstone, siltstone and claystone of the Norwegian Platåberget Mountain to create a system of subterranean chambers on the Advent Fjord's southern flank that could store 4.5 million seeds. It's a $9 million bet against climate change. But can it save us from the threat of worldwide famine? An article at Wired explores its current state and its future: '... it operates as a secure storage space for samples of other collections that are at risk. The samples remain at all times the property of the depositors, the only proviso being that the originals must be freely available to researchers and breeders under the terms of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources. There have been deposits from every continent: 3,710 species in total, from 29 crop institutes representing 226 countries. Over the past few years the need for a secure storage facility has become ever more urgent. A typhoon in the Philippines in 2006 caused a flood that left the national crop gene bank under two meters of water.'"
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How the Global Seed Vault Aims To Fight Future Famine

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  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Saturday October 30, 2010 @04:00PM (#34074908)

    if climate change doesn't happen then the value of their seed vault won't be what they are expecting and they lose.

    Buying coastal real estate would be a bet againt climate change.

  • by Dexter Herbivore ( 1322345 ) on Saturday October 30, 2010 @04:10PM (#34074972) Journal
    It just occured to me that I'm arguing the wrong point in that last post. What the hell does economic value have to do with preserving genetic diversity? This is (theoretically at least) a pure science problem of preserving gene sequences that may be wiped out by economic forces... oh wait, I think I just refuted my own argument.
  • by ( 1265320 ) on Saturday October 30, 2010 @04:13PM (#34074986) Homepage
    the "bet against climate change" seemed pretty straightforward to me that it was a bet against the success of climate change

    maybe it's just me, but I got what they were saying.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 30, 2010 @04:24PM (#34075056)

    If you give the third world food, they'll just breed more until they don't have enough to feed everyone even with the aid. Want to fight starvation effectively? Give them condoms.

  • by I(rispee_I(reme ( 310391 ) on Saturday October 30, 2010 @04:36PM (#34075136) Journal

    Ah, but if we give them condoms, we are encouraging fornication.

    This seems like a textbook example of why churches are not the best agent for philanthropic missions.

    Note to self: Use this as a talking point to republicans to demonstrate why tax breaks to churches are no substitute for actual social programs.

  • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) on Saturday October 30, 2010 @05:07PM (#34075302)

    Does anyone know if Monstanto's defunct, wretched, genetically modified seeds are in there as well?

    Highly doubtful. From the summary, "The samples remain at all times the property of the depositors, the only proviso being that the originals must be freely available to researchers and breeders under the terms of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources."

    Considering that the only organization more vile, despicable, and a greater danger to humanity than the Mafiaa (including their bought and paid for lackeys in the governments) is Monsanto, I doubt they would be able to cooperate with such an agreement.

    Besides, seeds that can only be used once since they have death codes inside them don't belong in that seed vault by definition.

  • So what do you do (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday October 30, 2010 @07:04PM (#34075910)

    When the area between A and B is filled with assholes with guns? So you go in and kill them, invade another country and try to impose your will on it? You'll note the US has done that sort of thing recently and it hasn't gone very well.

    This idea that it is as simple as just giving food to starving people shows a shocking lack of ignorance of the situation of the world. It is a childlike oversimplification of the situation. I mean you are right in the basics that the world is capable of producing enough food to feed all the humans currently around. That doesn't mean it is as simple as just handing it out.

    There are other even more complex questions too. As someone else noted, in destitute countries people breed quickly. So even if you did something like just airdrop in food (still an invasion by the way) you aren't really solving anything. So long as the country as a whole remains in a poor condition, people will have lots of kids. The standard of living as a whole has to be brought up, not just that people have enough to eat (that is a major part of it), but that they are more or less safe, have a place to live, have access to basic medicine, and so on. Only then do you find the birth rate falling. You have to bring prosperity, not just food, to deal with the problem. That, however, you can't just air drop, nor can you even force at the end of a gun.

    Then there's simple things like the cost of shipping food across an ocean, and the sustainability of a system where people rely 100% on others for their basic needs. Not a sustainable system. They don't need food, they need the capacity to produce their own food. Related, but not the same.

    If you think the solutions to the worlds problems are extremely simple, all it means is you are ignoring the realities of the world, of humans.

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!