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Backing up the Worlds Food Supply With 800,000 Plant Species on Ice

RATE THIS! +26
Posted in Science on 17th Mar, 2014 11:37 PM by AlexMuller

In March 2008, on a remote Norwegian island in the Arctic Circle, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, or “doomsday vault,” took its first deposits. The vault’s builders had spent some $7 million and 12 months blasting a tunnel and three chambers into the mountainside’s hard permafrost. To be stored within? Treasure.

 
The doomsday vault keeps the world’s agricultural heritage in deep freeze. Six years on, and after a recent deposit of 20,000 species, the vault now houses over 800,000 plant species, and with an average 500 seeds per sample, some 400 million seeds.
 
That may sound like a lot, but the doomsday vault was designed to store more. A lot more. At full capacity, in drawers lining the walls of its three chambers, the vault can fit 4.5 million species and some 2.25 billion seeds.
 
Think of the doomsday vault as the external hard drive backing up the genetic data of the world’s plant-based food. Or, if you prefer, a modern day Noah’s Ark for wheat, corn, rice, the world’s agricultural species in all their diversity.
 
In addition to civilization ending disasters, nuclear war, asteroid or comet strike, biblical floods, zombies, the world’s 1,400 genebanks and their precious seed stores are susceptible to war, poor management, and natural disasters.

Tags: seedsdoomsday vaultagricultureplantsice

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Comments

Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-03-18
+2
This is a great effort to preserve the genetic material of plants for any scenario- good, or as they describe here- a bad one. With various views about the future of our planet, it is important to have a beck up like this Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-03-18
+3
The choice of this location is great: a remote island in a rich, stable European country adds security. Also, the doomsday vault seems to be impervious to nuclear war or asteroid strike. Most importantly, the vault’s is the arctic cold chilling its chambers of seeds. This is indeed the best arrangement to preserve seeds! Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-03-18
+2
It would be great to try a similar effort in preserving animals. They state in this article that "As early as the 1950s, researchers have collected animal DNA. Unlike plants, of course, bringing animals back to life is still out of reach—but getting closer every year. " Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-03-18
+2
I hope that Global Seed Vault may not be, after all, a “doomsday vault”. It could just be "a snapshot of the world’s crops at the beginning of the 21st century—a time capsule of green, growing things." Reply


 

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