Why are seed banks, seed access important?

Plant genetic diversity and food security hinge on seed preservation.

Seed banks are an important part of food security, and the Aug. 7 "Sustainable, Secure Food" blog explains how preserving plant diversity protects the worldwide food supply, both now and in the future, according to an announcement from the American Society of Agronomy.

Just as animal species can become extinct, plant species can also be lost. “Once they are gone, we have lost them forever,” blog authors Maria Gallo and Sarah Dohle wrote. “Adapting to climate change or new pests can be difficult without good genetic diversity.”

Both authors are crop scientists. Gallo is president of Delaware Valley University, and Dohle is an assistant professor there.

Preserving seeds is a way to prevent loss and maintain plant genetic diversity. This diversity is important to:

* Improve resistance to current and emerging plant diseases and insects;

* Provide drought or flood tolerance, and

* Improve yields and nutrition to feed a growing global population.

In addition, seed banks can help a community affected by environmental or natural disasters. For example, seed donations helped Puerto Ricans gain access to fresh food after crops were devastated by Hurricane Maria.

The authors advocate for local seed systems. “This will help get plants back in the ground soon after the storm. Having a seed system where home gardeners and farmers have immediate access to high-quality seed builds security and autonomy into a food system, which is valuable for a community,” the authors noted.

To read the complete blog, visit "Sustainable, Secure Food" at https://wp.me/p9gkW1-2G.

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