The Svalbard Global Seed Vault officially opened Feb. 26, 2008, when it received its first shipment of 100 million seeds, originating from more than 100 different nations. In March 2010, its collection will top 500,000, and it will become the most diverse collection of food crop seeds anywhere on Earth.
Known as the “doomsday” seed vault, it is a global insurance policy, ensuring that a diverse variety of food crops survive threats such as disease, pests, droughts and other natural disasters, and global warming.
Ensuring that the genetic diversity of the world’s food crops is preserved for future generations is an important contribution toward the reduction of hunger and poverty in developing countries. This is where the greatest plant diversity originates and where the need for food security and the further development of agriculture is most urgent.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which is established in the permafrost in the mountains of Svalbard, is designed to store duplicates of seeds from seed collections around the globe. Many of these collections are in developing countries. If seeds are lost, e.g. as a result of natural disasters, war or simply a lack of resources, the seed collections may be reestablished using seeds from Svalbard.
The loss of biological diversity is currently one of the greatest challenges facing the environment and sustainable development. The diversity of food crops is under constant pressure. The consequence could be an irreversible loss of the opportunity to grow crops adapted to climate change, new plant diseases and the needs of an expanding population
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