Biodiversity warrior Cary Fowler wants to save the world from agricultural collapse, one seed at a time.

Why you should listen

Tucked away under the snows of the Arctic Circle is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Sometimes called the doomsday vault, it's nothing less than a backup of the world's biological diversity in a horticultural world fast becoming homogenous in the wake of a flood of genetically identical GMOs.

For Cary Fowler, a self-described Tennessee farm boy, this vault is the fulfillment of a long fight against shortsighted governments, big business and potential disaster. Inside the seed vault, Fowler and his team work on preserving wheat, rice and hundreds of other crops that have nurtured humanity since our ancestors began tending crops -- and ensuring that the world's food supply has the diversity needed to stand against the omnipresent threats of disease, climate change and famine.

What others say

"For individual crop varieties, doomsday does come every day. We want to put an end to that." — Cary Fowler, Washington Post

Cary Fowler’s TED talks

Cary Fowler on the TED Blog
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Culture

Playlist: Embrace your inner nerd

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Vive les nerds! While the term used to be something of a put-down, meant to mock an excessive interest in math or science, it’s now often used in an almost prideful way to signify a passion for pretty much anything. And that applies to pretty much all of those who end up on the TED […]

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Q&A

Q&A with Cary Fowler: Saving seeds to protect our food supplies

September 2, 2009

Before Cary Fowler’s TEDTalk posted on Monday, the TEDBlog caught up with him in Norway, via phone. We asked the difficult questions and he provided calm, leveled answers on the food crises of today. He’s taken on a challenging role, as director of the largest seed bank in the world and the Global Crop Diversity […]

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Quotes from Cary Fowler

I’m not talking about losing [agricultural] diversity in the same way that you lose your car keys. I’m talking about losing it in the same way that we lost the dinosaurs: actually losing it, never to be seen again.
Cary Fowler
TEDGlobal 2009 • 413K views Aug 2009
Informative, Persuasive
The coldest growing seasons of the future [will be] hotter than the hottest of the past. Is agriculture adapted to that? I don’t know. Can fish play the piano?
Cary Fowler
TEDGlobal 2009 • 413K views Aug 2009
Informative, Persuasive