Svalbard Global Seed Vault Opens in Norway

by , 03/06/08

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The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is now officially open as of last week, after nearly thirty years of planning. The facility is not only a storage space for seeds from all over the world, it’s a gorgeous structure to boot, built in the permafrost of a mountain on Spitsbergen Island in the Arctic Island Svalbard, that is part of Norway. The Global Seed Vault has been designed to store duplicates of seeds from seed collections from around the globe and from nearly every variety of food crop on the planet, such as wheat, rice or maize. So in the event of global catastrophe, we’ll be agriculturally prepared!

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The vault holds over 1.5 million distinct seed samples of agricultural crops, with the capacity to conserve over 4.5 million. The seeds will be stored at -18C to prevent them from germinating. But even if these fans in the cooling system fail, the natural permafrost surrounding the vault will keep them at around -4C.

We’re glad to see this project finally coming to fruition- sometimes the best ideas take time to grow from a seedling idea into a great project!

+ Svalbard Global Seed Vault homepage
Via New York Times and WIRED Magazine

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  1. Christine March 8, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    This is a great idea, but the location is confusing. Is the site/building not susceptible to sea level rise and flooding… and built on permafrost? Aren’t there problems in other parts of the world with the global climate change affecting permafrost sited buildings and infrastructure (shifting, collapsing etc.)…

    Does anyone know more about the construction details on this and provisions made for the above-stated?

  2. Lagavulin March 7, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    We should also bear in mind that the Board overseeing this vault consists of a number of people, nations and corporate representatives, most notably from Monsanto, Cargill, the Rockefeller family, Bill Gates is often mentioned…. But essentially this is a “seed trust” controlled by a number of interests who have dedicated their existance toward establishing monopolized control over resource distribution. For this reason alone no-one will ever convince me that there are firmly laid intentions for this seed vault to be used to solidify control and power over food access should worse come to worst. I know that the venerable Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, IA has undergone a hostile takover because one of its founders didn’t feel comfortable contributing to the Svalbard Seed Bank program….

    The other thing to keep in mind is that even the idea itself spells out how truly dire some of the most powerful people in the world now view our present situation. This isn’t a “high-profile” cause, and it isn’t a feel-good cause. This seed bank goes against everything the modern agricultural and food industries stand for. This project originated in a cloud of secrecy, and wasn’t funded with taxpayer monies. That tells me that the people involved are not altruistic and cautiously optimistic….they’re flat out scared.

  3. Zero Energy and Green B... March 7, 2008 at 5:32 pm

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  4. Heather March 7, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    I totally agree with Aaron. Instead of working on the cause of the problems, for 30 years we’re going to work on an insurance policy?!? We won’t NEED the insurance policy if we focus on the cause of the problem and work on cleaning that up instead!

    And if “in the event of global catastrophe” we suddenly need this (if we’re still here), doesn’t anyone involved with this project (hopefully some biologists, geologists, etc) think that there will be other reasons as to why our plants (and their seeds) magically disappeared – like unstable soils, changing weather, droughts, floods, etc? Or am I confused on the definition of “global catastrophe”?

    One final thing…how much energy does this building take to store these seeds and how much energy and destruction did it take to run the electricity lines to the building (in the middle of frozen nowhere) and keep the lights on? Whatever happened to the “time capsule” concept where we could bury something we wanted to find years later in a non-energy using, non-oversized (building) box?

    This, to me, is more proof that humans insist on trudging along trying to solve the problems we’ve created with technology and *more* with…technology and *more*. Einstein was way ahead of his time – we can’t solve the problems with the same thinking that caused them to begin with!

  5. dantron March 7, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Seinna… seriously. Give them some credit for accomplishing what they have so far. If a good number of plants/seeds do not survive a catasthopic event, then their is not much hope of us even setting foot on the surface to plant anything…ever.

  6. Aaron Max Fein March 7, 2008 at 1:48 am

    Well, Sienna has a bit of a point there. Also, lets just have a little logic review, shall we?

    This seed vault, meant to protect against global catastrophe, has taken how many years to get built? 30? ….really?

    And this is supposed to encourage confidence? Here’s the deal: If we as six billion humans on planet (spaceship) earth get to the point where something like this seed vault is vital, well, there won’t be six billion of us for long. So, how exactly does this help four billion people? You might say all kinds of things, and you might be right, to a degree.

    But really, the answer is pretty much that IT WILL DO NO GOOD FOR MOST OF HUMANITY! If we are ever at this point of needing what’s inside there, that means that however many of us have survived whatever badness led to such a point need seeds to grow our food, asap. Thats enough seeds for how many billions? Yeah.

    So, point is, some folks might get very good use outta this place, but in the grand view, its not much help.

    Further, it should be alarming. In reality, it represents further iniquity. Ya’ll got your fancy seed vaults set up in (everywhere thats poor), right?

  7. ReGeneration - ReGenera... March 6, 2008 at 10:57 pm

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  8. Sienna March 6, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Sure, we need agricultural crops to survive. But what about the millions of plant species worldwide that sustain the biosphere, and specific ecological areas? Instead of storing our own GMO creations, perhaps we should deflate our egos and preserve some of the species that sustain our earth. Endangered plants anyone? (not that seed collection from endangered species is really the way to go, but you get my drift) Biodiversity is key.

  9. Kat March 6, 2008 at 5:00 am

    that’s almost as grim as having to write your own will.

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