GAME SOWS SEEDS OF WISDOM
A CULT German board game whose fans include Hollywood actors Mila Kunis and Woody Harrelson may not seem the most obvious vehicle for raising awareness about the importance of preserving crop diversity. But that is what the makers of Catan are seeking to do with a new version of the popular game in which players compete to settle an imaginary uncharted island, gaining points for building settlements, accumulating and trading resources. Catan – Crop Trust, which was launched yesterday, requires players to balance the goal of farming and harvesting crops with the collective aim of preserving diversity by saving some of their seeds in a vault. Players who fail to do so endanger diversity, threatening the food supply and the survival of the island at the centre of the new game, developed with the caretakers of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. “The unique thing is you can’t win with only pursuing your own interests,” said Marie Haga, director of the Crop Trust, which looks after the world’s largest seed bank. Nearly 1 million seed samples are stored in the Svalbard vault, established to protect the world’s plant diversity. It’s stored above the Arctic Circle.