Tale/innlegg | Dato: 19.06.2006
Prime minister Jens Stoltenberg
Marking of the establishment
of a global seed bank
Svalbard, 19 June 2006
Dear Nordic colleagues,
I am pleased to mark the Norwegian Government’s recent decision to build a global seed bank, which will be built into the mountainside behind us. This facility holds a promise for the future. It will safeguard an invaluable treasure.
This seed bank is of global importance. It will be the only one of its kind. All other gene banks are commercial. This storage facility is being built with a long-term perspective. It is our final safety net. If seeds stored in a commercial gene bank are destroyed – and this has apparently happened about 40 times to date – the contents of this gene bank will make it possible to replace the seeds which have been lost.
This seed bank is important to ensure food security. The main aim is to protect the seeds of plants that are important for food and agricultural purposes.
This seed bank is important in regard to environmental considerations. Along with climate change, the loss of biological diversity is among the greatest global environmental challenges we presently face. This facility will be large enough to hold all known varieties of food plants.
This seed bank is important due to cultural considerations. Many of the seed varieties being lost today are no longer used in food production. They are nonetheless valuable and worth protecting, both because they inform us about our cultural heritage, and because some have characteristics no longer found among seed varieties in use today.
Preserving these seeds is therefore a means of safeguarding future development opportunities.
And last, but by no means least, this seed bank is especially important for developing countries. Although they enjoy great biological diversity, developing countries have the poorest storage facilities and suffer the greatest resource losses today. Norway has decided to build this facility now because global and national parties have indicated its necessity, and their desire to use it.
Dear colleagues, dear guests,
The Nordic Gene Bank has been contributing to the preservation and documentation of food and cultivated plants from all of the Nordic countries for 25 years. Today, the initiative also covers other countries, stretching from the Baltic to Africa. The Global Seed Bank opens up a new dimension in Nordic cooperation, in that the Nordic Gene Bank will be responsible for running the project.
Dear Nordic colleagues,
An old Norwegian saying is; “Det ligg ofte et større tre i et lite frø” ! (From small seeds, big trees grow).
I would therefore like to invite my Nordic colleagues to join me in filling this somewhat special cornerstone with seeds. This pillar will contain both stones from the building site and living biological material.