In near-polar temperatures, more than 70,000 new samples of rice, wheat, maize, cowpea and sorghum seeds joined on Monday, February 26, 2018, the fortified lair located on this archipelago in the Arctic half path between mainland Norway and the North Pole. With this new arrival, the "Last Judgment Vault" (as it is also nicknamed), buried more than 120 meters inside a mountain, has received in 1,059,646 varieties of cultures preserved in boxes lined up on shelves.
A Reservoir Threatened by Warming
" I am very pleased to announce that more than a million seeds have gone through this door to be permanently safe ", Norway's Minister of Agriculture, Jon Georg Dale, welcomed the solemn deposit. This most diverse collection of seeds in the world is a safety net for the 1,700 or so gene banks around the world that face the risks of natural disasters, wars, climate change, men's diseases and disabilities.  The warehouse is the property of Norway but the seeds belong to the States and the depositary institutions, which can recover them at their convenience. The World Seed Reserve has so far been solicited by only one institution: the gene bank in the city of Aleppo was damaged by the Syrian conflict, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) requested recover seeds. As a result, the ark currently contains 967,216 seed varieties. It can accommodate about 4.5 million.
Designed to resist disasters, the attic of the planet was itself a victim of global warming: the increase in temperatures in the Arctic led a melting permafrost (soil supposed to be frozen permanently) and caused a water leak at the tunnel entrance in 2016, without any seed being damaged. Oslo announced Friday the release of 100 million crowns (about 10 million euros) in 2018 to carry out work, including the construction of a new access tunnel and the erection of a service building to away from heat sources.