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Arctic Seed Vault inaugurated

The so-called 'doomsday' seed vault opens in Norway (Mari Tefre GCDT)
The so-called 'doomsday' seed vault opens in Norway
Mari Tefre GCDT

One of the world's largest repositories of food crop seeds was inaugurated last month - on a remote island in the Arctic Circle. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, in the town of Longyearbyen, in northern Norway, is buried 130m deep in a snow-covered mountain. The vault took its initial shipment of 100 million seed samples - around ten tonnes - from gene banks in over 100 countries, at the end of February. The so-called "doomsday" vault is intended to help protect global seed diversity.

The store has can hold around 2 billion seeds, with the vault surrounded by permafrost to keep samples cool even in the event of a power cut. In the worst-case scenario of extreme global warming, the storage rooms will remain naturally frozen for up to 200 years.

Cary Fowler, of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, said: "Crop diversity will soon prove to be our most potent and indispensable resource for addressing climate change, and water and energy supply constraints, and for meeting the food needs of a growing population."

Date published: March 2008


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