In the remote Norwegian town of Longyearbyen, just 1000 kilometers from the
North Pole, politicians from around the world came to celebrate the opening of
the world’s first global seed bank.
After years of difficult negotiations and searching for the right spot, this
was deemed to be the safest place on earth. Eventually, 4.5 million seed samples
will be stored in this “Doomsday Vault” and ensure the continued existence of
But is the dream of global food security achievable? By 2050 temperatures
worldwide are expected to rise by at least 2 degrees. This will result in a 30
per cent drop in production of food crops. By this time global food demand will
have doubled. How will we feed the world?
In SEED WARRIORS we hear from the scientists behind this
ambitious project and examine the reality of the fight against hunger.
In Kenya, where drought is a recurring problem, we meet Zachary Muthamia, the
director of the National Seed Bank, who is using the limited resources available
to him to preserve his country’s existing biodiversity and send copies of
Kenya’s unique plant heritage to Norway before his energy eating generators die
And we meet Marianne Banziger, one of the world’s leading experts on maize.
She’s using the same biodiversity to develop non-genetically modified seeds that
yield 20 to 30 percent more than existing seeds and thrive in conditions of
drought. But time is running out.
The two Kenyan-based scientists are part of a pioneering group of
environmentalists and agriculturalists who are all working in their own fields
to achieve their shared goal of global food security:
- David Battisti, a passionate climatologist with a global
outlook from the University of Washington, USA
- David Lobell, a renowned agriculturist studying the effects
of climate change on agriculture, from Stanford University, USA
- Cary Fowler, the initiator of the Svalbard Vault and
Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, Rome
- Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and political
activist, Nairobi, Kenya
- Ola Westengen, co-ordinator of the Svalbard Global Seed
- Marianne Bänziger, the world’s leading maize specialist and
a visionary scientist, born in Switzerland and based in Nairobi
- Zachary Muthamia, the Kenyan seed bank director,
Our protagonists come from a range of disciplines but they all face
innumerable hurdles – bureaucracy, a lack of money and resources, the absence of
political will. These unlikely heroes, have all made considerable sacrifices and
have proved resilient in the face of adversity.
Will the Svalbard Global Seed Bank bring our SEED WARRIORS a
step closer to their goal of global food security?