25 March 2008


With plant species disappearing at an alarming rate, scientists and governments are creating a global network of plant banks to store seeds and sprouts, precious genetic resources that may be needed for man to adapt the world’s food supply to climate change.
A few weeks ago the newly built Global Seed Vault in Longyearbyen, Norway received its first seeds.The vault's goal is to store and protect samples of every type of seed from every seed collection in the world. It was built by Norway, and its operations are financed by government and private donations, including $20 million from Britain, $12 million from Australia, $11 million from Germany and $6.5 million from the United States.
The Global Vault is part of a broader effort to gather and systematize information about plants and their genes, which climate change experts say may indeed prove more valuable than gold.

The Global Seed Vault began receiving millions of seeds in boxes that workers moved into different chambers as they began the storage process on Svalbard. What started out as independent efforts from seed banks around the world is now being consolidated and systematized.
A polar bear made of ice decorates the entrance to the Global Seed Vault in Norway. The vault descends almost 500 feet into the permafrost, with the entrance tunnel designed to withstand bomb blasts and earthquakes.
An automated digital monitoring system controls temperature and provides security akin to a missile silo. No one person has all of the codes for the entrance.
An ancient strain of wheat, left, and garbanzo beans, right, are examples of the types of seeds and sprouts that will be stored in the vault to prevent the continued disappearance of plant species. Already, three-quarters of biodiversity in crops has been lost in the last century, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
::via NYT