Thursday, March 11, 2010

Arctic seed vault sets record, over 500,000 samples

Alister Doyle in Reuters: A "doomsday" vault storing crop seeds in an Arctic deep freeze is surpassing 500,000 samples to become the most diverse collection of food seeds in history, managers said on Thursday. Set up on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard two years ago, the vault aims to store seeds of all food crops deep beneath permafrost to withstand threats ranging from a cataclysmic nuclear war to a mundane power cut.

"New seeds ... are taking us over the milestone of half a million samples," Cary Fowler, head of the Global Crop Diversity Trust which runs the vault with the Norwegian government and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center in Sweden, told Reuters.

A statement said thousands of new arrivals this week made the vault "the most diverse assemblage of crop diversity ever amassed anywhere in the world." It overtakes the diversity in a U.S. national gene bank in Fort Collins, Colorado. …Only about 150 crops are grown widely around the world but all come in a wide range of varieties -- potatoes, for instance, come in an array of sizes and colors…..

The entrance to the global seed vault in Svalbard, shot by Svalbard Global Seed Vault/Mari Tefre, Wikimedia Commons

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