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Seed Battles

Seed Battles

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Hidden deep inside a massive mountain in inhospitable Spitsbergen, Norway, is the most important vault in the world: the Global Seed Vault. It is 20 degrees below zero and the vault is able to withstand earthquakes, floods, missile attacks and nuclear disaster.

The 'Doomsday Vault' as it is called, is the life's work of the inspired American professor Cary Fowler. It's mission is to be a 'backup' for as many of the world's crops as possible, and a toolbox for seed breeders.

This is vital, for by 2050 there will be 9 billion mouths to feed. But the success of the vault also shows its downside. The increasing strategic importance of seeds give rise to a fundamental debate: to whom do the seeds belong?

Not all countries are willing to donate their seed collections to the vault. Emerging economies regard their own seeds as a green gold mine, for which others will have to pay. And large seed companies patent their latest seeds. So as seeds become less freely available, what will be the implications of declining diversity?

On the occasion of the vault's five-year anniversary, Cary Fowler met with the international management committee in Spitsbergen to discuss the current deadlock, and in this context SEED BATTLES travels the world to gain insights into the political and strategic game that is being played. The stakes: our daily bread.

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