At the top of Norway near the Arctic Circle, you will find the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Like you and I back up our phones and computers, seed banks around the world serve as the ultimate insurance policy for the world’s food supply. They store copies of every important crop variety available in the world today. Their goal is give future generations options. Whether we face war, climate change, or population growth, they make sure that we have seeds to replant and genetic diversity in our food supply for years to come.
My guest today is Lise Lykke Steffensen. She is the Director of NordGen or the Nordic Genetic Resource Center. NordGen runs the Svalbard Global Seed Vault along with the Norwegian Ministry of Agricutlure and Food and the Crop Trust. Their mission is to preserve and promote the sustainable use of the genetic resources within plants, farm animals, and forestry in the Nordic countries.
Join us as we discuss the importance of genetic diversity and the role of seed keepers in ensuring our future food supply.
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Analisa Winther, Nordic FoodTech Podcast Host 4:54
So, thank you so much for coming on the Nordic FoodTech Podcast. I’m very excited to be sitting at your offices. And maybe we can just start by explaining where we are. Like, what’s important about this building and the campus that we’re on?
Lise Lykke Steffensen, NordGen 5:06
Yeah, we are just outside of Malmö in Sweden at the campus of the Swedish Agricultural University, close to the garden and the greenhouses. We have just moved into a new building. It’s fully made of wood. It has solar panels on the roof. It’s the highest sustainability ranking that you can get and it fits so well to what we do here.
Analisa Winther, Nordic FoodTech Podcast Host 5:33
So I would love to hear more about what it is you do, but also how you got into this line of work.
Lise Lykke Steffensen, NordGen 5:38
Yeah. NordGen is the Nordic Genetic Resources Center. We are a knowledge center on genetic resources. And we are also a gene bank for seeds. We are an institution under the Nordic Council of Ministers, meaning that we work for the five Nordic governments of Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland, but also the three self-governing areas of Greenland, and Faroe Island, and Åland. What we do is extremely important for any food production, food security, for our ecosystems, and biodiversity. And I will elaborate a little bit more about that. We work with genetic resources in relation to agricultural and horticultural plants, meaning the food that we eat or produces feed or fuel or whatever. And then we work with farm animals genetic resources and forest genetic resources. And then we also have the operating responsibility of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Everything that has to do with agricultural biodiversity.
Analisa Winther, Nordic FoodTech Podcast Host 6:53
Yeah. And how did you get into this line of work? To be focused on biodiversity?
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