Almost every nation keeps collections of native seeds so local crops can be replanted in case of an agricultural disaster. The Global Seed Vault, opened this year on the far-northern Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, is a backup for the backups. It's badly needed — as many as half the seed banks in developing countries are at risk from natural disasters or general instability. The vault can hold up to 4.5 million samples, which will be kept dry at about 0°F (-18°C). Even if the facility loses power, the Arctic climate should keep the seeds viable for thousands of years. Let's just hope we still like corn then.
There's a monumental inclusion in TIME's list of the top 50 inventions this year -- the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, opened this year in the Norwegian of Svalbard near the north pole. Here's part of what TIME had to say about the so-called Doomsday Vault:
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