About the Vault
- The Svalbard Global Seed Bank is located in Svalbard in a Norwegian archipelago (an area of ocean containing many islands) in the Arctic Ocean.
- Svalbard is found north of mainland Europe, halfway between continental Norway and the North Pole.
- The vault was launched in 2008 as a backup for the world’s national and regional gene banks that store the genetic code for thousands of plant species. The objective of the Seed Vault is to safeguard as much of the world’s unique crop genetic material as possible, while also avoiding unnecessary duplication.
- It has seed samples from nearly every country in the world, and played an essential role between 2015 and 2019 in rebuilding seed collections damaged during the war in Syria.
- The whole of humanity relies on the genetic diversity of crops maintained in the world’s gene banks, and the Seed Vault is the last line of defence against the loss of that diversity.
- For instance: The world used to cultivate over 6,000 different plants but U.N. experts say we now get about 40% of our calories from three main crops – maize, wheat and rice – making food supplies vulnerable if climate change causes harvests to fail.
- Svalbard also serves as a backup for plant breeders to develop new crop varieties more resistant to climate change.
Why in News?
- The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, built to protect the world’s food stock from disasters ranging from nuclear war to global warming, added 19,500 rare seed variety samples from across the world to its collection, taking its total stash to more than 1.2 million.