The Svalbard Global Seed Vault 60 minutes

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault (Norwegian: Svalbard globale frøhvelv) is a secure seedbank located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near the town of Longyearbyen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago, about 1,300 kilometres (810 mi) from the North Pole.The facility preserves a wide variety of plant seeds in an underground cavern. The seeds are duplicate samples, or “spare” copies, of seeds held in gene banks worldwide. The seed vault will provide insurance against the loss of seeds in genebanks, as well as a refuge for seeds in the case of large-scale regional or global crises. The seed vault is managed under terms spelled out in a tripartite agreement between the Norwegian government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen).

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault 60 minutes

Construction of the seed vault, which cost approximately NOK 45 million (US$9 million), was funded entirely by the Government of Norway.Storage of seeds in the seed vault is free of charge. Operational costs will be paid by Norway and the Global Crop Diversity Trust. Primary funding for the Trust comes from organisations, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and from various governments worldwide.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault History:The Nordic Gene Bank (NGB) has stored a backup of Nordic plant germplasm as frozen seeds in an abandoned coal mine at Svalbard since 1984. The NGB has deposited more than 10,000 seed samples of more than 2,000 cultivars of 300 different species over the years. In addition, seed samples from the Southern African Development Community have been safely duplicated with the Nordic collection for some years. Both the Nordic and African collections have been transferred to the new Svalbard Global Seed Vault facility. Since 1 January 2008, the Nordic Gene Bank is an integrated part of the newly formed NordGen.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault Construction:The prime ministers of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland participated in a ceremonial “laying of the first stone” on 19 June 2006.The seedbank is constructed 120 metres (390 ft) inside a sandstone mountain at Svalbard on Spitsbergen Island.The bank employs a number of robust security systems. Seeds are packaged in special four-ply packets and heat sealed to exclude moisture. The facility is managed by the Nordic Genetic Resource Center, though there are no permanent staff on-site.

Svalbard Global Seed VaultMission:The Svalbard Global Seed Vault’s mission is to provide a safety net against accidental loss of diversity in traditional genebanks. While the popular press has emphasized its possible utility in the event of a major regional or global catastrophe, it will certainly be more frequently accessed when genebanks lose samples due to mismanagement, accident, equipment failures, funding cuts and natural disasters. Such events occur with some regularity. In recent years, some national genebanks have also been destroyed by war and civil strife. There are some 1,400 “crop diversity collections” around the world, but many are in politically unstable or environmentally threatened nations.

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One Response to The Svalbard Global Seed Vault 60 minutes

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