Doomsday Gene Vault Deep in the Arctic –“May Save Human Species After a Future Catastrophic Event”

 

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The Cambridge University phycicist Lord Martin Rees gives humanity only a 50/50 chance of making it through the century. With such unfriendly odds, Norway has given a beautiful gift to the future of the world. No matter what happens to us in the next hundreds of years, our life-sustaining seeds will be kept safe for whatever generations may come in the Arctic Seed Vault, also known as the Doomsday Vault, created as a repository of last resort for humanity’s crop genes. It safeguards the world's edible plant genes from future catastrophes like nuclear war, asteroid impact, and climate change.


The thousands of seeds contributed by Global Network of Agricultural Research Centers are now in the vault. Permafrost and thick rock will ensure that even with lost electricity, the samples will remain frozen at well below freezing temperatures. The high tech bank is fenced in and guarded, with steel airlock doors, motion detectors and polar bears roaming outside. All of this backs up the claim that this concrete facility is “the most secure building of its type in the world”.

 

Referred to as "Noah's Ark on Svalbard," more than 200,000 crop varieties from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East—drawn from vast seed collections maintained by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)—are housed on a remote island near the Arctic Circle, in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (SGSV), a facility capable of preserving their vitality for thousands of years.

The vault was built by the Norwegian government as a service to the world, and a Rome-based international NGO, the Global Crop Diversity Trust, funds its operation. The vault officially opened on February 26, 2008.

“We need to understand that genebanks are not seed museums but the repositories of vital, living resources that are used almost every day in the never-ending battle against major threats to food production,” Bioversity International’s spokesperson said. “We’re going to need this diversity to breed new varieties that can adapt to climate change, new diseases and other rapidly emerging threats.”

Genebanks are not just for end of the world scenarios where only a few survivors remain. They help out in practical ways when local disasters strike. For example, after the Asian tsunami disaster of 2004, the CGIAR-supported International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) used its collections to provide farmers with rice varieties suitable for growing in fields that had been inundated with salt water.

The genebank at the CGIAR-supported International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Palmira, Colombia was instrumental in providing bean varieties to farmers in Honduras and Nicaragua in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

The Daily Galaxy via cgiar.org and motherboard

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