Doomsday Vault’ holds seeds that could save the world

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Doomsday Vault’ holds seeds that could save the world

 

Stores inside facility in icy Norway would replenish food supply in event of catastrophe

 

By Scott Stump

TODAY.com contributor
updated 3/2/2012 9:30:32 AM ET

Jutting out of snow and ice in a forbidding part of Norway like the monolith in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the imposing Doomsday Vault literally holds the seeds to the world’s future in the event of global disaster.

Opened in February 2008, the vault houses more than 740,000 different seed samples from around the world, including a recent shipment of 25,000 seeds that originate everywhere from violence-ravaged Syria to the mountains of Tajikistan to the amaranth used in the Ecuadorian “Day of the Dead’’ celebration.

Video: Rare opening of world’s ‘Doomsday Vault’ (on this page)Formerly known as the Svaldbard Global Seed Vault, the Doomsday Vault it serves as the master backup to the world’s other seed vaults. Its stores stand ready to start replenishing the world’s food supply in the event of natural disaster, water shortages, global warming or war.

The vault is dug into the side of Plataberget mountain, near the village of Longyearbyen on a group of islands north of mainland Norway. It is even guarded by a natural security force, because polar bears roam the icy landscape around the facility. It is illegal to leave the local town without bringing a gun along.

Michelle Kosinski of NBC News was given a tour of the remote facility by Cary Fowler, executive director of Global Crop Diversity Trust, who conducted her through the long, icy tunnel leading to the coldest part of the mountain. Drilled straight through 400 feet of permafrost and rock past sets of frozen doors, it warehouses seemingly endless rows of seeds preserved at minus-4 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

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