1 million seed samples are now stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Today, just over 76,000 new seed samples were carried into Svalbard Global Seed Vault for long-term storage. This means that the seed vault now holds more than 1 million seed samples from gene banks worldwide. Norway's Miinister for Agriculture and Food, Jon Georg Dale, hosted today's anniversary celebration as representatives from 23 international gene banks carried their seed samples into the vault.

Jon Georg Dale and Ahmed Amri
Minister Jon Georg Dale and Ahmed Amri, Head of Genetic Resources at ICARDA with their deposited seed boxes. Credit: Sara Landqvist/NordGen

Depositors and partners from all over the world are now gathered in Longyearbyen to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and attend the "Seed Vault Summit". The seed vault in Svalbard opened on February 26, 2008, when former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Peace Prize Winner Dr. Wangari Maathai carried the first seed crates into the vault.

Minister of Agriculture and Food Jon Georg Dale
Minister of Agriculture and Food Jon Georg Dale visit the Seed Vault for the 10 Year Anniversary. Credit: Sara Landqvist/NordGen

Safe storage for the world's food plants 

The purpose of the seed vault is to provide safe storage for duplicates of seeds stored in national, regional and international gene banks worldwide. The goal is to maintain the genetic variation within the world's food plants, ensuring that agricultural and industrial crops are not eradicated in local or global disasters such as war, terrorism and natural disasters. 

"It is simply impressive that 1 million seed samples from all over the world have now found their way to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It confirms the important role of the seed vault as a worldwide insurance for food supply for future generations and an ever-growing population," Minister of Agriculture and Food Jon Georg Dale said.

The seeds sent to Svalbard are packed in boxes each containing a maximum of 400 seed types.
The seeds sent to Svalbard are packed in boxes each containing a maximum of 400 seed types. The boxes are sealed by the gene bank sending the seed. The boxes hold up to 400 seed samples each. Each seed sample consists of about 500 seeds and is contained in a sealed aluminium bag. Credit: The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture i Nigeria (IITA)

The full capacity of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is 4, 5 million different seed types, and it can therefore house duplicates of all the unique seed types found today in the many gene banks around the world, as well as new seed types that will be gathered in the future.

The seeds placed safely inside Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
The seeds placed safely inside Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Credit: Ministry of Agriculture and Food
Minister Jon Georg Dale with the International Advisory Panel of Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
Minister Jon Georg Dale with the International Advisory Panel of Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The panel is to advise on daily operations and activities of the seed vault. The panel consists of representatives from gene banks and other stakeholders. The Norwegian representative is Kristin Børresen from Graminor. Credit: Sara Landqvist/NordGen

The parties that finance and operate Svalbard Global Seed Vault are the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen).

Agriculture and Food Minister Jon Georg Dale is on Svalbard from Sunday 25.02.- Tuesday 27.02.

Press contact for Dale: Heidi E. Riise, +47 975 17 227.

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