Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Feeling seedy?

Arctic mountain is a Noah's Ark for world's seeds
By Sam Lister

A vault deep in the permafrost will keep millions of grains safe in the event of a global catastrophe
WORK began yesterday on a “doomsday� vault buried in the Arctic permafrost that will become the guardian of 10,000 years of agriculture, protecting millions of seed samples in the event of a global catastrophe.
The project, dubbed the Noah’s Ark for seeds, will catalogue and preserve more than three million species to ensure the long-term survival of the world’s vital food crops.
The vault — on an island on the Svalbard archipelago, 620 miles (1,000 km) from the North Pole — will be carved into the side of a mountain where the temperature is unlikely to rise above -3C (27F), even in the event of severe global warming. It will be surrounded by concrete walls 1m (3ft) thick.
The precious contents will be accessed by a single door using one of six master keys held by international bodies such as the United Nations. Nature, in the form of blizzards, ice floes and marauding polar bears, will provide security.
The feasibility study concluded that, under proper conditions, seeds for most main food crops could remain viable for hundreds of years at the Arctic site. Others, including key grains, could survive for thousands of years.
Times OnLine


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