A drawing of the Svalbard Seed Vault
Source: Global Seed Trust

A high-tech vault built 400 feet inside permafrost and solid rock on the Arctic coast of Spitzbergen Island has started to cool down its sandstone chambers to zero degrees Farhenheit in preparation for an incredible mission:

Archive up to 4.5 million seeds — the genetic source for all of the crops that feed humanity — in an ultimate fail-safe, blast-proof and climate-change immune chamber.

The Global Crop Diversity Trust announced that it has completed construction of the doomsday vault and has started the two-month countdown to ready the facility to protect the world’s agricultural heritage against extinction and calamity.

“The seed vault is the perfect place for keeping seeds safe for centuries,” said Cary Fowler, Executive Director of the Rome-based group, which has partnered with Norway and the Nordic Gene Bank on the establishment of the vault. “At these (frigid) temperatures, seeds for important crops like wheat, barley and peas can last for up to 10,000 years.”

“We really want this facility to inspire, to stand out as a highly visible monument to the often obscure but very important mission of conserving humanity’s agriculture heritage,” added Mr. Terje Riis-Johansen, Norway’s Minister of Agriculture and Food.

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