OSLO, Norway – Two years after receiving its first deposits, a "doomsday" seed vault on an Arctic island has amassed half a million seed samples, making it the world's most diverse repository of crop seeds, the vault's operators announced Thursday.
Located in Norway's remote Svalbard archipelago, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a safeguard against wars or natural disasters wiping out food crops around the globe. It was opened in 2008 as a master backup to the world's other 1,400 seed banks, in case their deposits are lost.
War wiped out seed banks in Iraq and Afghanistan, and another bank in the Philippines was flooded in the wake of a typhoon in 2006. The Svalbard bank is designed to withstand global warming, earthquakes and even nuclear strikes.
"There are a few unique collections that we don't have up there yet — Ethiopia and some of the Indian materials and some of the Chinese materials," he said.