February 26, 2008

Fail-Safe Vault Protects Crops from Natural Disasters

A vault designed to house more than 4 million seed samples from crops around the world drew attention from the global community yesterday.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was built in 12 months with the repercussions of global climate change in mind. It is said to be able to take on any natural or human disaster.

About 300 guests were present at the event. Norwegian Prime Minister Jen Stoltenberg and Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai were the first to place seeds in the depository during the ceremony.

"With climate change and other forces threatening the diversity of life that sustains our planet, Norway is proud to be playing a central role in creating a facility capable of protecting what are not just seeds, but the fundamental building blocks of human civilization," Stoltenberg said.

The Global Crop Diversity Trust will be in charge of the project which is aimed at "conservation of crop diversity in perpetuity."

Cary Fowler, Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, said that the vault will serve as insurance in the event of a natural disaster, but is not intended to replace other seed banks.

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

The vault, which consists of three rooms located at the end of a 410ft tunnel, and four sets of locked doors, is located 621 miles north of mainland Norway. The location is said to be geologically stable and remote. As an added benefit, the surrounding permafrost from the area will keep seeds inside the vault at a sustainable temperature.


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The Global Crop Diversity Trust