The Svalbard Global Seed Vault provides a backup of seed collections from genebanks around the world. It’s unique character has made it iconic in the public imagination as a ‘Noah’s Ark’ for crop plants. Its remote location and strict controls on access have, however, also lent it an air of mystery, swirling with conspiracy theories. In this paper, I first clarify the aims of the Vault, the history of its development and the policies and practices of its current operation. Given concerns around its potential links to the biotechnology industry, I go on to ask whether GM crops are currently stored in the Vault. Presenting several reasons for why GM crops are formally excluded, while indicating the potential for both change and unintentional contamination, I am compelled to question whether GM crops should be excluded. Answering this requires an interrogation of their potential conservation value as modern contributors to crop biodiversity. In exploring this issue, I suggest that there has been surprisingly little discussion of the moral status and conservation value of bio-technological crop plants and indeed, of how we care for all the techno-lifeforms we are currently engaged in co-creating. I suggest that these are becoming important issues as biotechnological techniques and applications begin to rapidly evolve and diversify. Emphasizing the scope for a refreshed interdisciplinary research agenda exploring the interface between biotechnology and biodiversity conservation, I conclude the article by proposing new concepts of synbiodiversity and symbiodiversity to encourage further debate.
Keywords Biotechnology  Biodiversity  Conservation value  GMO  Seed vault  New plant breeding techniques
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10806-016-9634-7
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,172
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Organisms ≠ Machines.Daniel J. Nicholson - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):669-678.
The Concept of Intrinsic Value and Transgenic Animals.H. Verhoog - 1992 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 5 (2):147-160.

View all 13 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Transatlantic Rift in Genetically Modified Food Policy.Celina Ramjoué - 2007 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 20 (5):419-436.
GM Crops: Patently Wrong? [REVIEW]James Wilson - 2007 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 20 (3):261-283.
Climate-Ready GM Crops, Intellectual Property and Global Justice.Cristian Timmermann, Henk van den Belt & Michiel Korthals - 2010 - In Carlos Maria Romeo Casabona, Leire Escajedo San Epifanio & Aitziber Emaldi Cirión (eds.), Global food security: ethical and legal challenges. Wageningen Academic Publishers. pp. 153-158.
GM Crops, the Hubris Argument and the Nature of Agriculture.Payam Moula - 2015 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 28 (1):161-177.
Gm Animals – Another Gm Crops?Ann Bruce - 2007 - Genomics, Society and Policy 3 (3):1-13.
Assessing the Value of Transgenic Crops.Hugh Lacey - 2002 - Science and Engineering Ethics 8 (4):497-511.


Added to PP index

Total views
12 ( #812,339 of 2,517,879 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #409,482 of 2,517,879 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes