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Svalbard seed vault
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Why did they take some seeds out? According to The Crop Trust, an affiliated seed bank in Syria couldn’t provide needed seeds to researchers in the Middle East because of the war in Syria. It’s kind of amazing that the Aleppo field station functioned through the war as long as it did. Now that it can’t, the mothership in the ice cliffs takes over.
Yesterday, in Wilson County, Tennessee, Spencer Alan Boston, 20, was in court on a marijuana possession charge. Facing the judge, Boston made a comment supporting marijuana legalization, pulled a joint from his pocket, lit it, and took a puff. From News Channel 5: “One of the craziest things I’ve seen,” says (Wilson County sheriff Robert)… READ THE REST
From a story on Marijuana.com, written some time ago but worth a new look today:
The medicinal value of cannabis is still a hotly contested idea in North America, but enough countries see its value to send along some seeds to the doomsday seed vault in Norway.
According to analysis by Marijuana.com, researchers from 17 countries (including North Korea) who are preparing to replant the earth’s flora in the event of a worldwide catastrophe have collected 21,500 cannabis seeds — including 31 strains of marijuana and eight strains of hemp.
There are more cannabis seeds than asparagus, blueberry or raspberry seeds.
In terms of “bio-safety” (if we might call it that), it is a bit amusing to note that while GMOs are banned from the vault, over 100 thousand seeds from hallucinogenic plants are stored inside. These include opium (75 thousand), marijuana (19 thousand of cannabis sativa), jimsonweed/jamestown weed (13 thousand), and African rue (3 thousand).
Not surprisingly for a facility primarily designed as a backup for food and agriculture, the vast majority of the seeds in the vault – 444 million or 69% – are grains such as rice, millet, wheat, corn, barley, etc. Legumes such as chickpeas, beans, lentils, etc. are second at 9% or 58 million seeds. The remaining 22% contains a vast array of nearly 6000 different species of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other plants.
Maize. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Hallucinogens yes, GMOs (most likely) no
The Vault’s official opening ceremony was on 26 February 2008. On that same day, 112 million seeds – 17% of the total seeds to date – were deposited. Further deposits the rest of the year doubled that initial number. Annual deposits continued a slower pace for several years but from 2016 onwards have picked up somewhat. 2018’s 78 million seeds were the highest since 2010 thanks to 35 different institutions making deposits.
Opium poppies. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Rumours nonetheless fly, so Fern Wickson of Norway’s GenØk Centre for Biosafety undertook an in-depth investigation of whether the rules actually ban them and whether there actually are any inside. You can read her full report here, but the basic summary is:
There are seeds from all continents including Antarctica (though technically those are from some small islands between Antarctica and Africa). Asia and Africa make up 62%. 11% of the seeds are of unknown (or at least unlabeled) geographic origin.