During the 1940's through the 1960's, the world began several initiatives to increase crop production. We now refer to this as the Green Revolution. For the most part, these initiatives were successful. We were able to develop many high-yield grains and seeds that have helped feed over one billion people.
However, there were several unintended consequences of all this. After a while, only a few strains had survived, making the whole system more susceptible to pathogens. There was no longer enough genetic diversity among the crops, meaning a few insects could inevitably destroy our whole food supply. This is why the Svalbard Global Seed Vault was created.
The Svalbard Seed Vault is essentially a bunker in the side of a mountain in the Arctic. It houses seeds from all over the world and is kept at a well-below freezing temperature of 0 degree fahrenheit to insure preservation. It also has a distinct advantage over other seed vaults around the world. It's remote location keeps it protected so it can't be easily affected by human interference, like the seed vault that was destroyed by a fire in the Philippines or the one that was demolished by war in the Middle East.
It's estimated that 75% of Earth's food crop diversity has already been lost, and the Svalbard vault holds about two-thirds of what's left. It's more than a preservation method, it's a back-up plan that addresses the problems of individual countries, as well as global issues. It houses seeds from countries all over the world including the U.S., Syria, Columbia, and even North Korea, which makes it the ultimate example of global cooperation.
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For further reading on the Svalbard Seed Vault:
Time: The Planet's Ultimate Backup Plan: Svalbard
After 4 Years, Checking Up on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault