Humanity’s life insurance policy just got upgraded.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, tucked away in the Arctic Circle between Norway and the North Pole, has received a new intake of 50,000 seeds from all over the world.
The building houses an immense number of plant seeds to ensure Earth’s ongoing food security, and as such holds the key to human survival in a potentially post-apocalyptic world.
The incredible building is buried 425 feet inside a mountain and is designed to protect crop seeds such as beans, rice, and wheat from nuclear war or disease.
For obvious reasons, the underground concrete structure is popularly known as the Doomsday Vault.
The new batch of 50,000 seeds is one of the largest single deposits made to the vault since scientists built the structure in 2008.
Despite being funded by Norway, the vault is managed by international organization Crop Trust and has designated places for every nation on the planet to provide seedlings of native species.
The countries that contributed to the latest addition include Benin, India, Pakistan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Netherlands, the United States, Mexico, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, and the United Kingdom.
“Today’s seed deposit at Svalbard supported by The Crop Trust shows that despite political and economic differences in other arenas, collective efforts to conserve crop diversity and produce a global food supply for tomorrow continue to be strong,” said Marie Haga, executive director of the Crop Trust.
“Nearly every country has agreed on the importance of conserving crop diversity through Target 2.5 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to conserve agricultural diversity in seed collections,” she added.
The vault currently holds nearly a million different varieties of seeds originating from almost every country in the world — including North Korea.
Seed samples for some of the world’s most vital food sources like the potato, sorghum, rice, barley, chickpea, lentil, and wheat will be deposited at Svalbard in the coming days, bringing the total number of seed samples at the facility to 930,821.
Despite this large collection, the vault is far from capacity.
“The Seed Vault has the capacity to store 4.5 million varieties of crops. Each variety will contain on average of 500 seeds, so a maximum of 2.5 billion seeds may be stored,” the Crop Trust website says.
In order to prevent contamination, seed samples are shipped to the island in large boxes, where they are scanned with X-rays to ensure the contents are safe.
To protect its assets, the vault comes equipped with five doors with coded locks, which are accessible by only a few people in the world.
To further ensure security, the vault is only unlocked for deposits three or four times a year.
For optimal storage, the seeds are sealed in custom-made three-ply foil packages and are kept near zero degrees Fahrenheit.
Thankfully, the location of the vault works as a failsafe for these conditions.
“Permafrost and thick rock ensure that the seed samples will remain frozen even without power,” the website reads.
This article originally appeared on News.com.au.
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