Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Its been a long time since you have seen anything resembling foresight on the part of your government. I thought I'd just point you to an example, a kind of Noah's ark for humanity's proverbial seed corn.

Oops! Sorry, thats visible via my subscription. Here's a snip.
Published online: 21 June 2006; | doi:10.1038/441912b

Doomsday food store takes pole position

Remote island hosts global seed bank.

Jacqueline Ruttimann

There's something fitting about the decision to site a bastion against the end of the world in a place that looks as if it has already experienced the apocalypse. On 19 June, a construction crew started work on a doomsday seed bank from which the genetic riches of Earth's food crops could, if necessary, be reconstituted. The location: the island of Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago, a desolate place where the winters are long and dark, and polar bears outnumber people.

The island's remoteness, say staff at the Global Crop Diversity Trust, a charitable organization based in Rome that has helped develop the bank, makes it the ideal location to store samples safely. Spitsbergen is free of tectonic activity, and its permafrost would preserve seeds at around -4 °C. Coal from a local mine will be used to power refrigeration units that will further cool the bank to the internationally recommended standard of -20 to -30 °C.

"It's a resource that needs to last for ever," says Cary Fowler, the trust's director....


JahTeh said...

According to New Scientist, all is not that rosey. A lot of the seeds in the bank aren't viable due to improper storage.

GreenSmile said...

So, even though the project is looking ahead, it didn't start soon enough? Does that mean we can never look far enough ahead? I don't know. We can look but maybe we can't see.

On the longevity of seeds: I have a vague memory of a report that grain taken from an egyptian pyramid, about 2000 years after the interment, was still capable of germination. I wonder if pyramids are better than refrigerators? Building pyramids is too expensive for this project.