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Scientists have recently added 50,000 seed samples to Doomsday Vault


Nearly 50,000 seed samples from all over the world have been added recently to The Svalbard Global Seed Vault. If you don’t know about the vault, then here’s the drill. In case there are any world climate scenario and geopolitics going too wrong, then this largest vault in Artic Circle will be the one ensuring global food security. Along with the new addition, there are nearly one million seeds in the vault.

Image: Svalbard Seed Vault/Crop Trust

This time, nine different institutions have contributed to the vaults. The countries included Benin, India, Pakistan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Netherlands, the US, Mexico, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus and the UK.

The contributed seed include wheat, lentil, barley, cultivated rice, mung beans, chickpeas, sorghum, grass peas, mash beans and other 86 potato varieties. The exact total no. of seed in the vault is now 930,821.

More about the vault

This vault is managed by the Norwegian government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center. The vault was launched in 2007 and is the largest collection of agricultural biodiversity in the world. It is located 800 miles from the Arctic Circle on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. The contribution is simple. The Crop Trust funds the preparation and shipment of seeds from the development countries as well as sponsors the operating cost of the vault. The Nordic Genebank oversees the operation of the vault.

The vault has a capacity of holding 4.5 million samples and the samples are stored in the facility’s cold, dry caverns. It is also known as the “Doomsday Vault”.

Marie Haga, the executive director of Crop Trust is seen to be quoted in a statement as, “Today’s seed deposit at Svalbard… shows that despite political and economic differences in other arenas, collective efforts to conserve crop diversity and produce a global food supply for tomorrow continue to be strong. Together, the nations that have deposited their seed collections account for over a quarter of world’s population.”

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As stated by Target 2.5 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, every country agrees that we need to protect the diversity of crops through the establishment of seed collection. Haga says, “Crop diversity is the fundamental foundation for the end of hunger.”

Inside the Vault

At first, 310,000 was stored during the launch in the vault. In its anniversary, 90,000 food crop seeds were added. The total had reached 820,700 by 2014. Now, as mentioned above, is just 69,179 seeds away from reaching a million.

A spokesperson from Crop Trust explains, “Crop samples stored inside Svalbard are selected because they’re unique varieties of crops that are considered essential for future food security. The samples are first duplicated by the depositor and stored for safe keeping in another genebank. The second backup copy is then sent to Svalbard.”

doomsday vault seeds
Image: Svalbard Seed Vault/Crop Trust

The vault is more like a “black box”. The depositors own the rights and can control the access to the seeds they deposit. There are regional gene banks to make the seeds available to farmers, researchers, and processors in accordance with international regulations.

The Realized Value

Svalbard has already been of core value. During the Syrian Civil War in 2015 that threatened Aleppo, ICARDA (International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas) withdrew the first seeds from the vault. They took the seed and bred it in Morocco and Lebanon. After completing the goal, the seeds were returned back to the vault.

Aly Abousabaa, the Director General of ICARDA, says, “WE are the demonstration today that we can rely on our genebanks and their safety duplications, despite adverse circumstances, so we can get one step closer to a food secure world.”

The need for these vaults seems to be growing by the day with the constant threats of climatic change, megadroughts, massive crop failures, the return of dust bowls, along with geopolitical situation across the globe taking the swift turn.

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This vault is for the dark future.

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