The seeds, packaged in foil, would be stored at such cold temperatures that they could last hundreds, even thousands, of years, according to the independent Global Crop Diversity Trust. The trust, founded in 2004, has also worked on the project and will help run the vault, which is scheduled to open and start accepting seeds from around the world in September 2007.There are more than 1400 seed banks around the world. For more information visit The Global Crop Diversity Trust.
Oil-rich Norway first proposed the idea a year ago, drawing wide international interest, Riis-Johansen said.
The Svalbard Archipelago, 300 miles north of the mainland, was selected because it is located far from many threats and has a consistently cold climate.
Those factors will help protect the seeds and safeguard their genetic makeup, Norway's Foreign Ministry said. The vault will have thick concrete walls, and even if all cooling systems fail, the temperature in the frozen mountain will never rise above freezing due to permafrost, it said.
The Norwegian government has broken ground--or maybe ice--for the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, an underground vault in the remote arctic Svalbard Island where up to three million seeds will be preserved in case of global catastrophe. Dubbed "Noah's Ark on Svalbard" by Norway's ag minister, the vault will protect seeds from nuclear annihilation, global warming, and man-made threats to species diversity, to name a few.
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