Food Security

How pivotal are seed banks in protecting the future of food?

Different varieties of corn, which are yellow, black, white and red in colour.

The Maize committee wanted to preserve traditional maize seeds as samples maintained in research facilities to study and improve. Image: UNSPLASH/Jen Theodore

Helen Anne Curry
Peter Lipton Senior Lecturer in History of Modern Science and Technology, University of Cambridge
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Wooden boxes filled with a variety of beans.
'Six varieties of beans at the CIAT gene bank in Colombia'. Image: Neil Palmer (CIAT)/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA
Buckets filled with different types of corn.
'Different varieties of maize for sale at a market in Cusco, Peru'. Image: J.Enrique Molina/Alamy

A large maize field.
Most maize that is grown today is F1 hybrid corn. Image: Pixabay/N4TX
Jars filled with seed sachets.
'Growing hybrid varieties often requires farmers to purchase fresh seed each year, rather than saving it'. Image: UNSPLASH/Eco Warrior Princess
Jars filled with different kinds of seeds.
'A maize seed bank in Ames, Iowa'. Image: Helen Curry, CC BY


What is the World Economic Forum doing to help ensure global food security?

A person bent down looking at maize crops
'The author tending her maize crop' Image: Andrew Buskell, CC BY-SA
Peruvian farmers standing next to a collection of potatoes.
'Farmers from different cities of Peru gather to celebrate the National Day of the potato in Lima, Peru, 2013'. Image: EPA/Paolo Aguilar
Three ears of corn, two are deep purple and one is white and grey.
'Blue and red corn from the author’s garden'. Image: Andrew Buskell, CC BY-SA

An ear of corn that is red and purple in colour.
'The author’s harvested double red maize'. Image: Andrew Buskell, CC BY
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Related topics:
Food SecurityLatin AmericaNature and Biodiversity
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Feeding the future: 3 ways our food system must transform to feed the world

Jim Andrew

December 4, 2023

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