Svalbard is only part of the story though because the storage conditions don't suit all plants, only those which have seeds that can be dried and stored. Bananas don't.
Photo by L. Guarino via Bioversity. Creative Commons licence.
Bananas and plantains cannot be dried and stored but they do need cold ( -196C) temperatures. The Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD) in Montpellier in the south of France has taken delivery of a safety backup of samples from Leuven in Belgium, in the same way that Svalbard has taken delivery of seeds.
If anything should happen to the original samples there is now a duplicate set available. It may seem unlikely but a typhoon damaged the Philippine rice gene bank, and looters destroyed wheat and lentil gene banks at Abu Ghraib in Iraq. It is essential to preserve these collections of biodiversity.
Other crops that are best preserved by tissue culture or in field gene banks are coconut, cassava, yam, potato, sweet potato and taro.
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