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11 February 2009: Minister of State Sargent makes deposit of Irish seeds to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Mr. Trevor Sargent T.D. Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food today launched an official deposit of Irish agriculture seeds to the recently opened Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. The Irish deposit consists of some of the most important seeds in the reference collections of Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Almost two-thirds of a million seeds, representing unique accessions of Ireland's forage grasses, potatoes, wheat, oats and barley collections will be deposited at Svalbard as part of Ireland's international commitment to maintain a broad genetic resource base for future needs. Minister of State Sargent stated that the event marking the deposit of Irish seed was an opportunity to: ┬┐acknowledge the importance of the recently opened Global Seed Vault, and also to celebrate the skill, dedication and hard work of the plant breeders in Ireland over our recent history as well as seed diversity conservationists┬┐.

Minister of State Sargent thanked both the Norwegian Government and the Global Crop Diversity Trust through the Norwegian Ambassador to Ireland H.E. Mr. Øyvind Nordsletten for their respective roles in the development, completion and ongoing management of the Global Seed Vault. Minister of State Sargent also underlined the Government's commitment to the programme through its regular annual contribution of €1 million to the Trust from Irish Aid over the past 3 years. He noted that the Global Seed Vault is a major asset to the world seed community in their collective efforts to protect global agricultural crop diversity. In concluding the Minister of State expressed his pride in being able to make a deposit on behalf of Ireland to this facility, which shall further enhance national efforts in protecting Irish crop diversity.

Note for Editors

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which is established in permafrost condition inside a mountain on a remote Norwegian island, is designed to store duplicates of seeds from seed collections around the globe. It will help to ensure that the genetic diversity of the world's food crops is preserved for future generations and is an important contribution toward the reduction of hunger and poverty in developing countries. The seed vault, which was opened in February of last year is located on a remote group of islands called Svalbard, approximately 1000km north of mainland Norway. The Global Crop Diversity Trust is a leading international Organisation involved in the conservation of crop diversity for worldwide food security.

Date Released: 11 February 2009