A film by Mirjam von Arx and Katharina von Flotow
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 biodiversity.
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 for good.
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 Vault, Norway
- 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, Nairobi
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?