The Svalbard Global Seed Vault said Thursday that it now has 500,000 unique samples to become the most diverse collection of crops in the world.
The new arrivals included a mold-resistant bean from Colombia and soybeans from the United States.
The Global Crop Diversity Trust marked the milestone in a brief statement. The Svalbard seed vault is designed to be insurance against loss of crop diversity due to natural or man-made disasters. It has been called the Doomsday Vault by the media. The vault opened Feb. 26, 2008 and features a fail-safe design that could withstand a nuclear holocaust or extreme global warming and keep the seeds safe.
Here’s a look at the set up of the vault, which is funded by the Norwegian government. The Global Crop Diversity Trust explains:
The Vault is dug into a mountainside near the village of Longyearbyen, Svalbard. Svalbard is a group of islands nearly a thousand kilometres north of mainland Norway. Remote by any standards, Svalbard’s airport is in fact the northernmost point in the world to be serviced by scheduled flights – usually one lands a day. For nearly four months a year the islands are enveloped in total darkness. Permafrost and thick rock ensure that, even without electricity, the samples remain frozen.
And the graphic tells construction the tale:
These milestones shed light on crop diversity efforts. It’s a noteworthy topic worth exploring more. Among the key resources to check out:
- Backgrounder on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault
- FAQ on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault
- The National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation (NCGRP) in Fort Collins, Colo.
- International Treaty on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
- Reuters on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault
And a video of Cary Fowler, head of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, talking at TED about crop diversity.