Seeds store history in time capsule project
Karl Haro von Mogel, Research Assistant
Department of Agronomy
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Phone: (608) 262-6521
3:02 – Total Time
0:17 – Why seeds in a time capsule
1:00 – What will be different in 50 years
1:24 – What seeds went into time capsule
2:09 – What will people do with time capsule seeds
2:29 – Seed 50 years from now
2:52 – Lead out
Sevie Kenyon: Karl, you recently placed some seeds in a 50 year time capsule, can you tell us why you did that?
Karl Haro von Mogel: So they, Union South at the University of Wisconsin, Madison… wanted to have a time capsule containing various items that were representative of our time today and then it would be opened 49 years from now. Seeds and the varieties of crops we grow, are always changing and I wanted to put in some seeds that plant breeders here—at the University of Wisconsin—thought were important today and would be important in the near future. Put them in the time capsule and then in 2061, someone might open them up and get a little window into all of these different aspects of what these plant breeders were working on today.
Sevie Kenyon: And Karl, what would you expect to be different 50 years from now?
Karl Haro von Mogel: The plants we grow 50 years from now, their genes may have come from—if you’re talking about maize—it may have come from some maize plants growing in Mexico and some growing in Iowa and then some growing in Europe. As seeds move around the world people trade them, cross them and breed them and then maybe even aspects of other plants that we might engineer into them as well.
Sevie Kenyon: What examples of seeds did you put into the time capsule?
Karl Haro von Mogel: I had some carrots, there were some purple carrots and some carrots that were bred for very high levels of beta-carotene- and that’s what causes the orange color in carrots. There were some interesting onions that were male sterile… they didn’t make pollen, but they could make seeds. There were some beets, the beets are red and yellow striped and when you cut them open they look like a flame, so he called them Badger Torch, Badger Flame and Badger Sunset. They’re also some oats, bred for high levels of a compound that is important for maintaining good cardio-vascular health.
Sevie Kenyon: Karl, what would you expect people to do or think when they open this time capsule 49 years from now?
Karl Haro von Mogel: I’m hoping that they…, it’s cheap and easy enough that they could just take these seeds and find out a little bit of information about the genetics. I don’t think any of the seeds will sprout, but maybe they might. So, we gave… I gave them pictures of what some of the plants might look like.
Sevie Kenyon: Karl, what do you see 50 years from now?
Karl Haro von Mogel: I’d like to see plants that can solve some of the many problems that we have today. You can’t separate everybody’s health from agriculture. It’s all inter-dependent… so I’d like to see plants that could fill some of those gaps, fill some of those roles that we may need them to fill to help people to get some of the nutrients they need that they’re not getting today.
Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Karl Haro Von Mogel, Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, Wisconsin and I’m Sevie Kenyon.