EU to open seed vault in Norway

Feb. 23, 2008 at 8:52 AM
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OSLO, Norway, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- European officials plan to head to Norway for the official opening of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, designed as a safety net for the world's crop diversity.

The vault, which has been described as a "Noah's Ark" and a "Doomsday Vault," was dug into a mountainside in Norway's arctic Svalbard islands. It will hold 4.5 million different agricultural seed samples from around the world at -4 degrees Fahrenheit. Located more than 600 miles north of mainland Norway, it is the northernmost point in the world to be serviced by scheduled flights, the Global Crop Diversity Trust said.

The group said the world's seed collections are vulnerable to civil strife, war, natural catastrophes, poor management, lack of adequate funding, and equipment failures. The vault is designed to hold crops such as wheat, barley and peas for up to 10,000 years.

The EU Observer said European Commission President Jose Barroso and Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg are scheduled to attend Tuesday's ribbon-cutting ceremony.

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