Cannabis and the Doomsday Vault

Our recent blog post, 18 Fun Facts About Cannabis, mentioned that Bill Gates and other investors have secured a “doomsday seed vault” to preserve a wide variety of plant seeds. As promised, here’s more information on the famed vault.

Just what is the “Doomsday Vault?”

A conservationist’s dream: Imagine a fail-safe seed vault deep underground in a sandstone mountain, designed to withstand natural catastrophes such as tsunamis, earthquakes, floods and drought as well as man-made disasters such as those caused by war. Crazy, huh?

Such a place exists. It’s called the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and it’s located on a remote island halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. The idea behind the vault is that even though seed depositories are located around the world, all are vulnerable in one way or another. Hence the need for the catastrophe-proof Svalbard Global Seed Vault, aptly nicknamed the “Doomsday Vault,” that opened on February 26, 2008.

How does it work?

Countries and organizations deposit seeds that are held for withdrawal at a future time. Each organization’s seeds are stored in the equivalent of safety deposit boxes. If disaster wipes out a crop and all locally stored seeds are not viable for whatever reason, a depositor can withdraw the saved seeds so the crop doesn’t become extinct.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault can hold up to 4.5 million varieties of seeds and currently stores more than 860,000 varieties from more than 60 institutions and nearly every country in the world. All the food staples are covered; right now the vault holds the most diverse collection of food crop seeds in the world, and new deposits keep coming in.

Are There Cannabis Seeds in the “Doomsday Vault”?

Well, there’s good news and bad news about cannabis in the vault. While the United States has deposited over 17 million seeds in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, alas, none of them are cannabis seeds. No worries though, three organizations: the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety, the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research, and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center have deposited over 20,000 cannabis seeds in the vault. Unfortunately, although the seeds are cataloged in a seed portal that anyone can access, we couldn’t tell which strains of cannabis have been preserved so we don’t know which strains will survive a catastrophe. We can only hope that since the point is to preserve strains that will thrive in a variety of environmental conditions and provide people with the food and medicines they need, cannabis deposits to date include both high THC and high CBD varieties. As international and hopefully U.S. cannabis research expands, we’ll learn more about the complexities and value of different cannabis strains. Ideally, seed conservationists in our country and around the world will identify and deposit seeds that will preserve the cannabis plant’s most important and medically valuable strains.
As we learn more, we’ll share in this blog, as well as on The Source’s Henderson Nevada Dispensary Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.

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