Cape Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

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.

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