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The Global Seed Vault on the archipelago of Svalbard, Norway, is built to protect the world’s seed diversity from natural disasters and warfare. Designed to last 10,000 years, this vault is the world’s insurance policy, a way to ensure that humanity never runs out of diverse sources of food to grow.
Some 1,400 seed banks exist all around the world, but in general they are working collections used by plant breeders and biology researchers who retrieve seeds to work on. The Global Seed Vault, which houses 825,000 unique seed samples, is the insurance for these local vaults, a backup to the backup. As food security comes under threat from climate change — a recent Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change report projects that future wheat yields will drop by two percent per decade — crop diversity is necessary to ensuring a stable, sustainable food supply. We’ll need to try many kinds of crops to see what grows in our new weather.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault at Night.