"Noah's ark of plant life" launched in Arctic
www.chinaview.cn 2008-02-27 09:19:19   Print

A vault dubbed "Noah's ark of plant life" has been launched in the permafrost of a remote Arctic mountain to protect the world's crop seeds from man-made and natural disasters. (Xinhua Photo)

A vault dubbed "Noah's ark of plant life" has been launched in the permafrost of a remote Arctic mountain to protect the world's crop seeds from man-made and natural disasters. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)
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    BEIJING, Feb. 27 (Xinhuanet) -- A vault dubbed "Noah's ark of plant life" has been launched in the permafrost of a remote Arctic mountain to protect the world's crop seeds from man-made and natural disasters.

    An opening ceremony was conducted Tuesday at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, as 100 million seeds from more than 100 countries were placed inside. The first day's deposits comprised 268,000 samples and filled 676 boxes.

    "Biological diversity is under threat from the forces of nature ... and from the actions of man," Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said at the opening ceremony, which was attended by politicians and experts from around the world.

    "The seed vault is our insurance policy" against threats such as war, natural disasters or climate change, he said.

    The vault, which Norway built at a cost of about 9.1 million U.S. dollars, has the capacity to store 4.5 million seed samples from around the globe.

    Dubbed a doomsday vault, the cavern was built 125 meters (400 feet) inside a mountain close to the town of Longyear-byen in Svalbard, a Norwegian island about 800 kilometers (500 miles) from the North Pole.

    The deposits range from major African and Asian staples such as rice, maize, wheat, cowpea and sorghum to European and South American varieties of eggplant, lettuce, barley and potato. Genetically modified varieties will not be included.

    Construction started in April last year. Norway owns the vault but countries sending seeds will own the material they deposit.

    (Agencies)

Editor: Wang Yan
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