Seed banks catalog Brazil’s food past to safeguard its future

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On an island in the estuary known as Lagoa dos Patos, in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul state, an old lady kept a treasure in her fridge. For years, it held a gift she had received at her wedding decades earlier: beans and pumpkin seeds. “She said she was going to give me the seeds she got from her mother-in-law,” says Rosa Lia Barbieri, a researcher with the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa). “They were seeds from a pumpkin they call gila, which is often used to make sweets,” she adds. At the time, Barbieri was in charge of the national seed bank for gila (Cucurbita ficifolia)…

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