Global seed vault exceeds 1.2 million seed samples mark

01-Mar-2023 - SJ

The global seed vault on Spitsbergen has been enriched by nearly 20,000 new seed samples. On the occasion of its 15th anniversary, dozens of boxes with seed duplicates from all over the world were brought to the facility near the polar town of Longyearbyen on Tuesday, including, for the first time, some from the Balkan states of Albania, Croatia and northern Macedonia, as well as from Benin in Africa.

This time, 2761 samples from the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) in Gatersleben and one sample of wild strawberries from the Julius Kühn Institute in Quedlinburg were included from Germany. This means that the seed vault will be home to more than 1.2 million seed samples in the future - there is room for around 4.5 million.

The seed vault turned 15 on Sunday. With the anniversary in mind, this time 15-year-olds from Longyearbyen helped move the new seeds into the facility, which is operated by the Norwegian government, the Nordic Agricultural Research Institute NordGen and the Bonn-based World Crop Trust on the northern Norwegian archipelago. Further storage is planned in June and October.

For Crop Trust Executive Director Stefan Schmitz, the facility represents "hope, unity and security" in uncertain times. "In a world where the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, natural disasters and conflict are increasingly destabilizing our food systems, it has never been more important to prioritize the protection of these tiny seeds," he said.

Bild von Євген Литвиненко auf Pixabay

The seed vault stores backup copies of around 6,000 different plant varieties at just under minus 18 degrees Celsius, including cereals such as wheat, rice and barley in all their diversity, as well as fruits and vegetables. The central task of the repository is to safeguard plant diversity on earth and thus also the food supply for mankind. It also enables gene banks to access duplicates of their collections in the event of natural disasters or destruction due to wars and conflicts, for example.

The vault is closed to the outside world - even film crews and people wanting to get married inside have had their requests turned down, the operations coordinator of the globally unique facility, Åsmund Asdal, told the German Press Agency in Longyearbyen. To mark the 15th anniversary, however, the operators have now launched a virtual tour in which people can take a detailed look inside the vault online./trs/DP/jha (dpa)

Note: This article has been translated using a computer system without human intervention. LUMITOS offers these automatic translations to present a wider range of current news. Since this article has been translated with automatic translation, it is possible that it contains errors in vocabulary, syntax or grammar. The original article in German can be found here.

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