In January 2011 Australia had donated USD $13,047,051 to the Global Crop Diversity Trust’s Svalbard seed vault in Norway, with another USD $8.1 million.
Australia is currently the third largest national government financial donor to the Trust after Norway, Britain, and the United States. Chairperson of the Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity (Australia), Professor John Lovett, sits on its board.
Among the individual foundation/corporation donations to the Trust so far, only the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/UN Foundation has given more than Australia or Norway, Britain and America.
In February this year Victorian farmer Dr. Tony Gregson travelled to Norway with 301 samples of field peas and 42 rare chickpeas, presumably for inclusion in the Australian Gene Banks held in the vault.
The Svalbard seed vault has been in operation for three years and has been plagued with budgetary and operational problems which seriously threaten ongoing seed viability.
Climate change impacts are predicted to hit Australia hard and those successive natural disasters we have experienced since late 2010 have shown us the possible scale of these impacts.
So what is the Australian Government doing to ensure that all these well-meaning geneticists, biologists, farmers and other seed collectors (attempting to insure that the country’s food security is assured) are not working hard in vain? Are the Global Crop Biodiversity Trust’s activities being monitored closely at ministerial level?Photograph from Google Images