AIMED at safeguarding the world's food supply against possible catastrophes, a giant vault that can hold around two million seeds of all known varieties of crops, would soon be built in Norwegian Arctic island of Spitsbergen.
The seed bank will be set up next year by the Norwegian government at the behest of crop scientists, British weekly 'New Scientist' reported adding that the US$3.0 million vault will be built deep inside a sandstone mountain lined with permafrost.
The scheme had won UN approval at a meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome last October. A feasibility study said the facility "would essentially be built to last forever."
The seed bank, situated in the freezing cold island would prove useful in case of a nuclear war, climate change or natural calamities like earthquakes, scientists say.
"If the worst came to the worst, this would allow the world to reconstruct agriculture on this planet," says Cary Fowler, director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, an independent international organisation promoting the project. The vault will have metre-thick walls of reinforced concrete and will be protected behind two airlocks and high-security blast-proof doors. "Even if some catastrophe meant that the vault was abandoned, the permafrost would keep the seeds viable. And even accelerated global warming would take many decades to penetrate the mountain vault," Fowler said.
Press Trust of India