One seed at a time, protecting the future of food | Cary Fowler

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The varieties of wheat, corn and rice we grow today may not thrive in a future threatened by climate change. Cary Fowler takes us inside a vast global seed bank, buried within a frozen mountain in Norway, that stores a diverse group of food-crop for whatever tomorrow may bring.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Featured speakers have included Al Gore on climate change, Philippe Starck on design, Jill Bolte Taylor on observing her own stroke, Nicholas Negroponte on One Laptop per Child, Jane Goodall on chimpanzees, Bill Gates on malaria and mosquitoes, Pattie Maes on the “Sixth Sense” wearable tech, and “Lost” producer JJ Abrams on the allure of mystery. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, development and the arts. Closed captions and translated subtitles in a variety of languages are now available on TED.com, at Watch a highlight reel of the Top 10 TEDTalks at

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48 COMMENTS

  1. مـــيـــن🥰 يـرحــــب🥰 بــــي🥰 يــضـغط لايـــك🥰ويـراســــلنـــي خـــــاص واشـتـرك بـقـنـاتـــي
    *whatapps**0046736374818*💋💋💋

  2. I'm inseminating my bed and other places everywhere, everyday. But my seedlings don't grow, they just seem to die all the time. I'm confused. Help me

  3. It worries me that such a magnificent TED talk with such a pressing and profoundly meaningful message only has about 50k views in 10 years, while a TED talk about procrastination has 20 million in 2 years… It kind of exemplifies the problems we are in… Let these procrastinators watch this talk and help/support this work…

  4. Here in Perí we have a project to store seeds, and is working good and exchanging whit other countries, and in LAtin América is called "REd de semillas" (seeds network)

  5. Как жаль, что он не упомянул огромный труд, проведенный в этом направлении Николаем Ивановичем Вавиловым.
    Schade, dass er die gewaltige Arbeit von Nikolai Wawilow in dieser Richtung nicht erwähnt hat.
    What a pity that he did not mention the tremendous work done in this direction by Nikolai Vavilov.

  6. I felt like nudging him and saying "Psst shut up, don't tell everyone about this amazing seed bank in Svalbard – I'm afraid some nutcase(s) is going to go and blow it up!"

  7. The reality is that this cave, keep the genetic diversity of the world, or better sequester the genetic diversity of tropical countries to usufruct the economically and culturally in the future in and which the Western powers are planning the destruction of existing civilizations to start his so-called new world order.

  8. It's supposed to say "Cary Fowler: One seed at a time, protecting the future of food". But I'm guessing they couldn't fit all that into the title on youtube

  9. Cary Fowler and Dr Vandana Shiva are both heroes for saving seeds. I do hope he is working with her and her organisation Navdanya. We need their combined wisdom to ensure the future of our crops for the next 1,000 years.

  10. I disagree, mainly from the standpoint of duplicating work. Suppose we need a crop that can withstand high salt content in the soil; with genetic engineering, it might take several iterations (a couple growing seasons) to find a good crop, when instead we could find one in the seedbank that works with little or no modifications. That one instance is likely more than enough to pay back the cost of running this bank.

  11. I agree.

    Or if not a universal child cap perhaps a license to have children. It sounds like too much power but really, I would rather the government be giving the right people with good families and economic situations the chance to have kids rather than allowing poor or fundamentalist folks to push out kids in order to gain money or voting power.

    The only question would be how to implement or enforce it.

  12. Diagnostic, the main reason the poor have so many children is lack of education, especially education for women. Education effects many things, among them awareness of contraception. Also, in situations where people are poor they often have large families in hopes that SOME children make it to adulthood to care for their parents. Until we can make sure their 1 child survives, is limiting them just? Think of this, the quake in China leveled that school that is a whole generation in a family dead.

  13. I think the long term human solution to overpopulation was created the very day man evolved from whatever spark or collision that created him in the first place. Not to just simplify matters…but… ; he will eat the food until it is gone and die. Sorry to say but that is all living things. It doesn't take mental awareness to know 'Adapt or DIE"! It's even more base than mating.

  14. I wouldn't go as far to say an end of humanity, but maybe an end to society as we know it. Sure there may be widespread disease and hunger strikes, but it wouldn't be enough to eradicate the human race.

    Sadly it might take a few catastrophes across the globe for us to learn how to treat each other and the rest of the world.

  15. like hwip and hweat?
    where you kinda pronounce the h first?
    or do you say wu-heat and wu-hip?

    I pronounce them as wip and weat… so no i do not

  16. i wouldn't put all hope in 1 spotof seed storage, what if there is an earthquake….

    i would definitely split the move some into a different facility just incase something happens.

  17. Corporate ownership of genetic material, along with debt-controlled cash-cropping, is a far greater threat to genetic diversity than our global warming (oops) climate change.

  18. As an atheist I am opposed to all notions of a God.
    As a human being, familiar with the folly and foolishnesh of mankind, making man a god is infinately worse.

  19. And what of wild plants from which all these agricultural crops come? Surely their natural diversity is of some value.

  20. Well you are right, ultimately the main contributor of energy input on the earth system is the Sun, either directly as EM energy or indirectly as stored energy in fossil fuels, biomass etc.
    It is also true that the output of EM energy from the Sun has increased but it doesnt correlate very well with the increase of global temperature, which has been even more dramatic. On the other hand important green house gases have increased which do correlates better with increased temp. over the years.

  21. Vangalex wrote:
    "Climate change… yes, this is the coldest summer on record in Western New York"

    What exactly with the word "global" you dont understand? Is not called "local climate change" for a reason, it is called "global climate change" implying a global trend of raising temperatures.

    There is total consensus among scientists that the global temperate is rising, but what it is disputed is the degree of human involvement in the temperature rising.

  22. all of those species are just dna information, just information.

    If we can sequence the genomes of all species, then store them as data just as we do computer data. Then perhaps that would be the best and safest way to store that information.

  23. I guess it would be most beneficial to do both, but we have to look at the potential costs of doing the reservoir thing. From what I could understand, it seems like it's not very expensive, just kept in poor locations.

    and it's possible we may not even need the actual seed but just their genetic variance in some sort of information based document, like a pdf or a some sort of text file.

  24. it may be colder here in NY, but on a global scale the temperature is rising, albeit slowly. I don't think his assertion that the hottest weather now will be peanuts to the coldest then is all that accurate, considering he's trained in genetic variability, not climate change. But it's still not a bad point either way.

    The climate has changed dramatically in the past, and there's no real way of knowing that it won't change again.

  25. weather cycles are a little more predictable on a long term scale, though they're not too heavily tested, so we may just be masturbating our ego.

  26. what chance? If Moores law can give an inkling of an idea into how advanced our technology is going to be then, there's very little chance that we won't be able to handle this.

    The only chance we can take is to ban genetic experimentation on the basis of some fabricated ethical or religious foundation.

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