'Noah's Ark' seed vault chalks up a million crop varieties

February 26, 2018
Since opening on February 26, 2008, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault has taken in more than a million different seed varieties

Norway's 'doomsday' seed bank, which seeks to protect the world's crops from natural disasters, on Monday said it had gathered more than a million varieties as it marked its 10-year anniversary.

Dubbed the "Noah's Ark" of food crops, the Global Seed Vault is located deep inside a mountain on Svalbard, a remote Arctic island in a Norwegian archipelago and has the capacity to store up to 4.5 billion seeds.

Launched in 2008, the Svalbard was on Monday marking its 10th anniversary by taking shipments of more than 76,000 seed samples, with depositors from all over the world delivering crops such as black-eyed peas, the Bambara groundnut and the Estonian onion potato.

Although housed in Norway, the seeds belong to the donor states and institutions and they can withdraw them at their convenience.

The delivery raises to 1,059,646 the overall number of unique crop varieties deposited in the so-called "doomsday vault" since it opened on February 26, 2008 with the aim of providing a "fail-safe seed storage facility, built to stand the test of time and the challenge of natural or man-made disasters."

"I am extremely happy to announce that more than one million seeds will pass through this door to be secured forever," said Norway's Agriculture Minister Jon Georg Dale.

The vault currently has 967,216 varities as some Syrian grains were withdrawn with the aim of re-introducing local strains after the fighting in Aleppo ended.

There are 1,700 gene banks around the world that safeguard collections of and many of these are exposed to and wars, according to the independent Global Crop Diversity Trust.

Located 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) from the North Pole, the Svalbard archipelago, which is twice the size of Belgium, counts 2,300 inhabitants and is considered the ideal place for the vault due to its remoteness, far from civil strife.

Explore further: Norway to boost climate change defences of 'doomsday' seed vault

Related Stories

Arctic 'doomsday' seed vault receives 50,000 new deposits

February 23, 2017

Nearly 10 years after a "doomsday" seed vault opened on an Arctic island, some 50,000 new samples from seed collections around the world have been deposited in the world's largest repository built to safeguard against wars ...

Syrian seeds withdrawn from Arctic 'doomsday vault'

October 19, 2015

In the first withdrawal from a "doomsday" seed vault in the Arctic, thousands of seeds that were originally kept in war-stricken Syria have been safely delivered to Morocco and Lebanon, officials said Monday.

Forest tree seeds stored in the Svalbard seed vault

February 26, 2015

A new method for the conservation of the genetic diversity of forest trees will see its launch on 26 February 2015, as forest tree seeds are for the first time stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on the Spitsbergen Island, ...

Recommended for you

When a fish becomes fluid

December 17, 2018

Zebrafish aren't just surrounded by liquid, but turn liquid—in part—during their development. As the zebrafish embryo develops from a ball of cells to a fully-formed fish, a region of the embryo switches its phase from ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.