Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Russian Federation to hand over 2000 seed specimens to 'doomsday' Arctic Seed Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault The Svalbard Global Seed Vault
Melinda Barton | 01 March, 2018, 16:43

"I am extremely happy to announce that for the first time more than a million seeds will have passed through these doors to be secured forever", said Jon Georg Dale, Norway's minister of agriculture and food, just outside the entrance to the seed vault.

The seed vault, which turns ten years old this month, is built into a mountain at Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago midway between the mainland and the North Pole. Norway's government said the vault is in an "ideal location for long-term seed storage" since it is "well above" sea level and surrounded by permafrost, which provides natural cooling, according to the project's website.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was constructed in an abandoned Arctic coal mine to store and safeguard the world's crops and plants from global natural or man-made disaster.

That's the huge vault that stores more than 1 million seed samples from around the globe.

Seeds are kept at -18 °C (-3 °F), and should be protected against a number of potential disasters, ranging from global warming to nuclear war. It supports worldwide gene banks, national gene banks and the world's backup facility, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It's supposed to stay frozen for 200 years, even if the power goes out.

Depositors from 23 seed banks around the world braved sub-zero temperatures to deliver duplicate seeds of vital staples such as rice, wheat and maize; black-eyed pea, a major protein source in Africa and South Asia; and samples of sorghum, pearl millet and pigeon pea.

No seeds were harmed, as any water seeping into the vault is immediately pumped out, but after 10 years of operation the Norwegian government thinks the time is right for reinforcements.

At present, the vault reports to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO].

Still, Norway is now continuing to fortify the facility against any such future warming events, as is evidenced by upgrades to refrigeration and power facilities.

The parties that finance and operate the Svalbard Global Seed Vault are the Norwegian ministry of agriculture and food, the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which is based in Bonn, Germany, and the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre (NordGen), whose main office is in Alnarp, Sweden.

The vault has already been used to create new gene banks in Morocco and Lebanon after the region's central seed bank in war-torn Aleppo was destroyed in the Syrian Civil War.

In an effort to safeguard the future of Irish craft brewing and distilling, the Department of Agriculture will be depositing material including a Hunter variety of malting barley into the Svalbard Global Seed Vault this week.