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Security Backup
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Seeds in foil bags.

Just like the old saying "don't put all your eggs in one basket", storing all your genetic resources at a single site is risky.  USDA-ARS National Plant Germplasm System's collections are duplicated through coordination of active and base collections. Other genetic resources programs do not have separate sites to house collections. Global food security is dependent on an international network of genebanks, and therefore duplicate safety back-up of genetic resources is in everyone's interest.

The NLGRP, with large capacity and infrastructure, provides security back-up storage of seeds for other governmental agencies, botanical gardens, national genebanks in other countries, international genebanks, NGOs and Native American tribes.   The institutions providing seeds retain ownership of them in a black-box arrangement in which NLGRP provides optimal storage conditions but does not conduct viability tests or distribute seeds and will return seed to owner at their request. This service is provided free of charge to qualified entities with the minimum provision that the owner distributes seed for research from their base collections.  Free, back-up storage at NLGRP protects genetic resource collections from irreplaceable loss and ensures long-term benefits of genetic resources.

All black-box stored material will be returned to the owner upon written request.

A Material Transfer Agreement (MTA), renewed every 5 years, is required for all material placed in black-box storage.  Please contact Dr. Stephanie Greene (

Germplasm Submissions

Major Backup Donor Organizations

African Rice Center in Benin
Agriculture & AgriFood Canada
Country of Georgia
Embrapa Centergen
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)
International Potato Center (CIP)
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
Native Seeds/Search
Rae Selling Berry Seed Bank & Plant Conservation Program
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
The Rockefeller Foundation
Seed Savers