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.
Cary Fowler — who heads the trust that oversees the seed collection, which is 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) from the North Pole, said the facility now houses at least one-third of the world’s crop seeds.
“In my lifetime, I don’t think we’ll go over 1.5 million. I’d be rather surprised if we go over a million,” Fowler told The Associated Press. “At that point, we’d have all the diversity in the world … and the most secure samples.”
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.
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