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.
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
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
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.