Jun
22
2006

Saving seeds: arctic project puts phem in the bank

Seed bank:: Through a new facility being built in Norway north of the Arctic Circle, seeds from all over the world will be kept safe to be used in the event of catastrophic natural disasters. (Photo from U.S. Agriculture Department)
Seed bank:: Through a new facility being built in Norway north of the Arctic Circle, seeds from all over the world will be kept safe to be used in the event of catastrophic natural disasters. (Photo from U.S. Agriculture Department)
What could be a safer place than the frigid temperatures of the Artic along with roaming polar bears to protect the world’s rich diversity of seeds? That’s the conclusion that scientists have come to I planning a way to save our most precious seeds.

Work started this week on a northern Norway island to build a seed vault. Carved into an Arctic mountain, the vault will hold a supply of food crop seeds. Run by the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT), the vault will protect the seeds from being lost forever if some natural catastrophe should sweep the Earth or parts of it.

GDTC currently has about 1,400 crop gene banks spread across every corner of the globe except Antarctica.

The new vault will be imbedded into permafrost and rock above the Arctic Circle and be covered with a layer of ice. Eventually, seeds from every nation will be stored there. It will have the capacity to hold up to 1 million seeds.

Seeds will be kept in watertight foil packaging and will be stored in an area that doesn’t need artificial refrigeration. Temperatures on the island of Spitsbergen never get over 27 degrees Fahrenheit. The island is only a couple hundred miles from the North Pole.

So what kind of seeds to you think should be put in the vault? What kind of conditions do you think it should take to get seeds out of the vault?

By the way, the Science Museum of Minnesota has its own project involving old, saved seeds. The Three Sisters Garden in the Big Back Yard grows corn, beans and squash that have been stored for hundreds of years by Native Americans.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Diane's picture
Diane says:

I think this is a great idea. I also think you should save rape seed and cocoa beans as well.

I also feel there should be bottled water, purified dirt and a biosphere or at least a greenhouse with the seeds. In the event of a nuclear attack or meteor then the water and dirt to grow the seed will need to be uncontaminated. I also feel that if the atmosphere is contaminated as well then you will need at the very least material to build a greenhouse and at the most a complete biosphere.

It should have directions for planting the seeds and building the greenhouse or biosphere in all major languages. It should also have photo or picture directions in case the culture that survives is illiterate or very young.

posted on Tue, 06/05/2007 - 10:31am

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