'Doomsday' vault design unveiled
2007-02-10 0:00

By Mark Kinver | news.bbc.co.uk

The final design for a "doomsday" vault that will house seeds from all known varieties of food crops has been unveiled by the Norwegian government.

The Svalbard International Seed Vault will be built into a mountainside on a remote island near the North Pole.

The vault aims to safeguard the world's agriculture from future catastrophes, such as nuclear war, asteroid strikes and climate change.

Construction begins in March, and the seed bank is scheduled to open in 2008.

The Norwegian government is paying the $5m (Ł2.5m) construction costs of the vault, which will have enough space to house three million seed samples.

The collection and maintenance of the collection is being organised by the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which has responsibility of ensuring the "conservation of crop diversity in perpetuity".

"We want a safety net because we do not want to take too many chances with crop biodiversity," said Cary Fowler, the Trust's executive director.

"Can you imagine an effective, efficient, sustainable response to climate change, water shortages, food security issues without what is going to go in the vault - it is the raw material of agriculture."

Future proof
The seed vault will be built 120m (364ft) inside a mountain on Spitsbergen, one of four islands that make up Svalbard.

Dr Fowler said Svalbard, 1,000km (621 miles) north of mainland Norway, was chosen as the location for the vault because it was very remote and it also offered the level of stability required for the long-term project.

"We looked very far into the future. We looked at radiation levels inside the mountain, and we looked at the area's geological structure," he told BBC News.

"We also modelled climate change in a drastic form 200 years into future, which included the melting of ice sheets at the North and South Poles, and Greenland, to make sure that this site was above the resulting water level."

By building the vault deep inside the mountain, the surrounding permafrost would continue to provide natural refrigeration if the mechanical system failed, explained Dr Fowler.

'Living Fort Knox'
The Arctic vault will act as a back-up store for a global network of seed banks financially supported by the trust.

Dr Fowler said that a proportion of the seeds housed at these banks would be deposited at Svalbard, which will act as a "living Fort Knox".

Although the vault was designed to protect the specimens from catastrophic events, he added that it could also be used to replenish national seed banks.

"One example happened in September when a typhoon ripped through the Philippines and destroyed its seed bank," Dr Fowler recalled.

"The storm brought two feet of water and mud into the bank, and that is the last thing you want in a seed bank."

Low maintenance
Once inside the vault, the samples will be stored at -18C (0F). The length of time that seeds kept in a frozen state maintain their ability to germinate depends on the species.

The Arctic conditions will help keep the seeds in a frozen state
Some crops, such as peas, may only survive for 20-30 years. Others, such as sunflowers and grain crops, are understood to last for many decades or even hundreds of years.

Once the collection has been established at Svalbard, Dr Fowler said the facility would operate with very little human intervention.

"Somebody will go up there once every year to physically check inside to see that everything is OK, but there will be no full-time staff," he explained.

"If you design a facility to be used in worst-case scenarios, then you cannot actually have too much dependency on human beings."

Article from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6335899.stm

Related Articles
'Doomsday vault' to house world's seeds
Monsanto Buys ‘Terminator’ Seeds Company
GM food must be allowed into Europe, WTO rules
Seeds of Deception

Latest News from our Front Page

German Schoolchildren will Cook and Clean for “Refugees” as Part of Work Experience
2015-10-13 0:44
Schoolchildren from an undisclosed school in the city of Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein, will spend a week doing housework for so-called “refugees”. Unknown Object. The idea was sold to parents at a parents’ meeting as a “practical internship“, but has sparked outrage online. A letter to the parents said their children will be going to “refugee” accommodations and will be making beds, sorting clothes, and ...
MTV: Saying "No Can Do" Or "Long Time No See" Is Racist
2015-10-12 23:04
Harmless terms have offensive origins, asserts Franchesca Ramsey According to MTV News, using the phrases “long time no see,” “peanut gallery” and “no can do” is offensive because the terms have “racist beginnings.” Host Franchesca Ramsey begins by claiming that the term “peanut gallery” is offensive because it was once the place where black people were “forced” to sit at the theater ...
Migrants Dump Garbage from Their Balconies at German Asylum Center
2015-10-12 23:35
German authorities expect up to 1.5 million asylum seekers to arrive in Germany this year – up from 750,000 last month. So they can expect more of this– Migrants Dump Garbage from their Balconies : Augsburg Asylum Center, Germany In a recent poll, the number of “frightened” Germans jumped from 38% to 51% in three weeks. Muslim Statistics reported, via Religion of Peace: The latest ...
US Paradrops 50 Tons Of Ammo To Syrian Rebels
2015-10-12 22:32
As we noted over the weekend, the US has now thrown in the towel on the ill-fated (and that’s putting it lightly) strategy of training Syrian fighters and sending them into battle only to be captured and killed by other Syrian fighters who the US also trained.  The Pentagon’s effort to recruit 5,400 properly “vetted” anti-ISIS rebels by the end of ...
Migrant Crisis stand-up routine - Sam Hyde
2015-10-10 18:07
YouTube description: "Migrant" "Crisis" AKA Muslim Road Trip. Hundreds of thousands of astronauts, doctors, sciencemen, and peaceful clock inventors descend upon the countries with the most collective guilt and free stuff. This was pretty good man... I wasn't expecting this reaction from the same Boston college audience who so thoroughly disapproved of my 'Mike Brown' routine. I think the invasion of ...
More News »