Svalbard seed vault to take Peruvian potato samples

February 17th, 2011

By Mark Kinver for BBC News

Farmers in Peru are sending 1,500 varieties of potatoes to a “doomsday vault” in the Arctic Circle in order to safeguard the tubers’ future.

Potatoes are regarded as the world’s most important non-cereal crop, and have been eaten for about 8,000 years.

But native species from the highlands of South America appear to be at risk.

The samples will be stored in a vault inside a mountain, which aims to protect the world’s food crop species against natural and human disasters.

“Peruvian potato culture is under threat,” said Alejandro Argumedo, a plant scientist involved in the project. “The work we begin today will guarantee the availability of our incredible potato diversity for future generations.”

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