Longyearbyen, Norway (26 February 2008) The first seeds will be placed in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault at an opening ceremony on Tuesday, 26 February 2008. During the ceremony, thousands of crop varieties from countries around the world will be placed in the fail-safe facility carved into the Arctic permafrost in the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard.
Constructed by Norway as a service to the world, and nicknamed the “doomsday vault” or “Noah’s Seed Ark”, the facility is located nearly a thousand kilometres north of mainland Norway. The seed vault will house and protect virtually every variety of almost every important food crop in the world.
The opening of the seed vault is part of an unprecedented effort, being led by the Global Crop Diversity Trust, to protect the planet’s rapidly diminishing crop biodiversity, a critical resource to sustain earth’s agriculture. The facility will secure hundreds of millions of seeds for centuries. In the event of a natural or manmade catastrophe, the vault would enable civilization to re-start agriculture. The seed vault may become one of the most important and recognisable structures on earth, though few will ever see it first-hand.
Materials related to the opening will be embargoed until time of release at 10:30 a.m. CET (09:30 hours GMT) on Tuesday, 26 February.
The official press room for the event, which will include streaming video of the opening ceremony, photos of the facility, and embargoed press materials, will be available at www.seedvault.no (password protected). For other background information now available on seeds being deposited, photos of crop varieties, and new interactive illustrations and maps, please visit the Global Crop Diversity Trust web site..
Construction of the seed vault was funded by the Norwegian government as a service to the world community. The Global Crop Diversity Trust will provide support for the ongoing operations of the Seed Vault, as well as funding for the preparation and shipment of seeds from developing countries to the facility. The Nordic Gene Bank will manage the facility and maintain a public on-line database of samples stored in the seed vault