HomePlantsMinister’s Visit to NordGen Focused on Seeds for the Future

Minister’s Visit to NordGen Focused on Seeds for the Future

Date: 04.09.2019 Author: Sara Landqvist Category: Plants
Johan Axelsson showing Minister Jennie Nilsson how to manually tresh carrot seeds.

Johan Axelsson, responsible for the seed lab, showed Jennie Nilsson a manual tresher.

How hard can it be to use a manual tresher? And what is the connection between NordGen and a well-know juice? Well, the Swedish Minister for Rural Affairs knows. Today, she made a quick visit to NordGen and we got the opportunity to tell her a little bit more about our mission.

After lunch and before an inauguration of the project Grogrund, the Swedish Minister Jennie Nilsson, popped in to our greenhouse to learn some more about NordGen. Beneath the glass roof, she was given an attempt to identify rape seeds, manually tresh carrot seeds and taste bread made of Ölandsvete. (Ölandsvete is an old landrace wheat rediscovered and praised by bakers around the world. Until the 1990’s the only seeds from Ölandsvete were kept in our freezers.) But above all, the Minister got to see which opportunities the Nordic seed collection has.

“We could among other things tell Jennie Nilsson about how our carrots are used to develop natural colorants which can replace chemicals in our food. And as the foundation for all plant breeding, our genetic material can also deliver solutions when it comes to creating a more sustainable agriculture. It was amazing to see how quickly the Minister understood what a treasure we are safeguarding here”, says Lise Lykke Steffensen, Managing Director of NordGen.

“Demanding work”

To safeguard the genetic resources of the Nordic countries is a demanding task, but the Minister understood the challenges we face. We could also show the spot where our new building will be constructed. A building which Sweden has agreed to pay the rent for, and which will solve many of the problems in our current location. We could also give a few examples of species which are a bit tricky to propagate. The asparagus, for example, needs three years before we can collect its seeds. And we need to be very brutal with the cauliflowers for them to develop any infructescence at all.

“It was very exciting to see how demanding it is to conserve the genetic diversity which NordGen is responsible for. But the material they have in their freezers, greenhouses and fields are the foundation for our future food supply. It’s something we must cherish and take good care of, says Jennie Nilsson”, Swedish Minister of Rural Affairs.

And what about the connection between NordGen and the juice? Well, ever heard of Fun Light? In this bright red coloured juice, a natural colorant is used. The colorant has been extracted from black carrots in our seed collection. The same thing goes for a variety of other products, such as candy and yogurt.  Remember that the next time you’re buying food with natural colorants!