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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Tuesday May 21, 2024
Tuesday May 21, 2024

Svalbard global seed vault: Humanity’s hidden lifeline in a frozen fortress

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Arctic archipelago holds ‘doomsday’ vault to safeguard the future

In the icy reaches of the Arctic Circle, nestled within the secluded archipelago of Svalbard, lies a hidden fortress designed to secure the very essence of humanity – the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

This ‘doomsday vault’ is surrounded by glaciers and frozen tundra, providing an impervious sanctuary for an essential collection of seeds. Managed collaboratively by the Norwegian government, the Crop Trust non-profit organization, and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center, the vault aims to safeguard duplicates of 1,214,827 seed samples from nearly every country worldwide, with the capacity for millions more.

According to the Crop Trust website, the primary purpose of the Seed Vault is to back up genebank collections, ensuring the foundation of our future food supply. In the event of a global crisis or catastrophic loss, the stored seeds offer a crucial lifeline for the revival of agriculture and the sustenance of human life.

The website highlights the vulnerability of existing genebanks to natural disasters, war, and avoidable disasters such as lack of funding or poor management. It emphasizes that the loss of a crop variety is irreversible, akin to the extinction of a species.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault serves as a safeguard against such catastrophic losses, storing duplicates or backups of seed samples from the world’s crop collections. In a politically and militarily tense world, the knowledge of an emergency food plan provides a sense of comfort and security.

The remote location of Svalbard was strategically chosen for the project, with the archipelago being the farthest north reachable on a scheduled flight. The facility, stretching over 100 meters into the mountain, offers accessibility coupled with isolation. Positioned well above sea level with low humidity, Svalbard provides optimal conditions for preserving the seeds, ensuring their viability for the uncertain future.

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