Today in Norway, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault opened its doors to the first deposits of what will eventually be 100 million seeds from over 100 countries. Seeds such as maize, rice, wheat, cowpea, eggplant, lettuce, barley, and potato were some of the first deposits in the seed vault. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault contains the most diverse and comprehensive collection of food crop seeds in the world.
Located on the island of Spitsbergen in the Arctic Circle, the vault was built 130 meters deep inside a frozen mountain. Its purpose is to serve as a library for food crop species that may become endangered or extinct due to climate change. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault has been built to ensure the safe storage of hundreds of millions of seeds for several centuries or more. Even if the worst-case scenarios of global warming prove to be true, the vault will remain naturally frozen for up to 200 years, thanks to its location in the Arctic Circle.
To find out what happened at the opening ceremony, and for a video about Svalbard, read more.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, along with the African Nobel Peace Prize-winning environmentalist Wangari Maathai, together placed the first seeds in the vault. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, along with numerous dignitaries and agriculture experts, also deposited seeds during the ceremony, while music was provided by Norwegian musicians and choirs. Prime Minister Stoltenberg commented that, "With climate change and other forces threatening the diversity of life that sustains our planet, Norway is proud to be playing a central role in creating a facility capable of protecting what are not just seeds, but the fundamental building blocks of human civilization."
For more information on this important project, read more at Crop Trust.