News story | Date: 2007-08-21
Long-term storage of GMO seeds in the SGSV will not be approved. Import and storage of GMO seeds according to Norwegian legislation will require advance approval.
No GMO seeds from Svalbard
Seeds from genetically modified (GM) plants can currently not be accepted for storage in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
According to Norwegian national legislation, the import to and storage of GMO seeds in Norway requires, inter alia, approval in advance from Norwegian authorities and storage in a “contained use” facility meeting certain standards.
The Norwegian biotechnology legislation was established prior to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and thus did not anticipate or take into account its particular status, mission and operating procedures. Unless and until the legislation is amended or an exemption made for the Seed Vault, national legislation will apply to deposits.
Can be revised
If at some later stage it is deemed desirable to include GMO seeds into the Seed Vault in line with its mission, Norway will examine relevant policies and regulations as well as look into the possibility of upgrading the procedures and operations of the facility. In this regard, Norway will give serious consideration to the views of the International Council that will be created to provide policy guidance for the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
4.5 million seed samples
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is being constructed as a cave excavated in the permafrost just outside of Longyearbyen. The SGSV is intended to ensure conservation of the genetic diversity for the world's food plants by storing duplicates of seed collections from gene banks all over the world. It will have storage capacity for over 4.5 different seed samples. If seed samples are lost somewhere in the world due to natural disasters, wars or resource shortages, they may be re-established with seeds from Svalbard. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault will open on 26 February 2008.