Arctic Seed Vault To Ensure Safety Of Not Losing Seeds For Food Crops In Case Of Global Catastrophe

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Thu, 01/31/2008 - 5:57pm.

A new seed vault to be constructed in an Arctic archipelago aims to prevent the loss of important crop species, locking away seed samples in case of world catastrophe.


The genebank, run by the Global Crop Diversity Trust, will operate differently than other genebanks: it will only allow seeds to be taken out if the original seed sources have been exhausted or destroyed. It will contain more than a million different seed varieties, stored away for safety.

The seed vault will be constructed deep inside a mountain in the Svalbard archipelago, a remote island more than 900 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The vault will be at the end of a cave 131 yards into the mountain - or 0.07 of a mile. It will be 426 feet above the current sea level, impenetrable to water if the polar ice caps melt.

Construction was announced on February 9, with the Norwegian government putting in the $5 million to construct it. According to the GCDT, construction should be completed by September of this year.

The seed vault will have the capacity to house 3 million seed samples. The main focus will be natural seeds that offer genetic biodiversity, meaning hybrid seeds will currently not be collected because their biodiversity has been purged through modifications, according to Reuters.

"This design takes us one step closer to guaranteeing the safety of the world's most important natural resource," said Dr. Cary Fowler, Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust in a press release.

The location was primarily chosen because it would be underground in frozen permafrost, acting as a natural backup refrigerator if electricity fails.

The seed vault, for some, is a realized answer to calls dating back to the 1980s for a permanent, protected international seed vault. Seed vaults already exist worldwide, but none have the same amount of protection as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is expected to offer.

More information can be found for the seed vault through this link.

by M. T. Whitney - February 14, 2007 - posted at

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Thu, 01/31/2008 - 5:57pm.