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Svalbard Global Seed Vault celebrates tenth anniversary with special delivery

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Svalbard Global Seed Vault celebrates tenth anniversary with special delivery

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It's been a decade in existence but there's no cause for celebration here; just another delivery day at Europe's deepest cold store. If disaster strikes the world's food stocks, this is the place which could save us.

It must be said, however, that the vault is only open to deposits around three to four times a year.

The Svalbard global seed vault in Norway is an artic deep freezer that now contains more than a million samples. The idea is to ensure the survival of the world's most precious plants and to preserve diversity.

The very first barrier to entry into the vault is the sheer remoteness of the location. The Svalbard island sits 800 miles or 1,300 kilometres from the North pole.

Global assurance for global diversity

Buried more than a hundred metres under the ice, it contains an enormous gene-pool in case the planet is hit by natural or man-made catastrophes. It is also home to a variety of crops including rice, wheat, sorghum and maize.

The only withdrawal made from the stocks so far has been to replenish agricultural seeds destroyed in Syria's civil war.

An unexpected thaw of permafrost meant some water flowed into the vault's entrance two years ago, but its reserves were unharmed. As a result Norway plans to spend around 13-billion euros on upgrading facilities.

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