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AGRICULTURE

One million-plus seed samples stored in vault on Svalbard archipelago
Wednesday, 28 February, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Longyearbyen
More than a million seed samples from gene banks worldwide have been stored in a vault on Norway’s remote Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, as it marked the tenth anniversary of its opening recently.

As a part of its anniversary celebrations, over 76,000 new seed samples were carried into the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which is located deep inside a mountain near the town of Longyearbyen and called by some as the doomsday vault.

“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.

As he made the speech, representatives from 23 international gene banks carried their seed samples in sealed boxes to the seed vault.

The purpose of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which opened in 2008, is to provide safe storage for duplicates of seeds stored in national, regional and international gene banks worldwide.

The goal is to maintain the genetic variation within the world's food plants, ensuring that agricultural and industrial crops are not eradicated in local or global disasters, such as war, terrorism and natural disasters.

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.

As the seed vault offers its services to all types of gene banks seeking security storage for unique seed samples, the seed samples in the vault remain the property of the gene banks that deposit them.

The full capacity of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is 4.5 million different seed types, and it can, therefore, house the duplicates of all the unique seed types found today in the gene banks around the world, as well as new seed types that will be gathered in the future.

In September 2015, Syria’s war led to the first-ever withdrawal of seeds from the vault. The seeds were initially sent to Svalbard from a gene bank in Aleppo.

(Source: Xinhua)
 
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