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Russia to hand over 2,000 seed specimens to ‘doomsday’ Arctic Seed Vault

February 26, 18:18 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The Global Seed Vault on Svalbard was created ten years ago

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The Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault

© AP Photo/John McConnico

MOSCOW, February 26. /TASS/. Russia plans to transfer about 2,200 specimens of food plant seeds to the Global Seed Vault located on Norway’s Arctic island of Svalbard, Dr. Nikolai Dzyubenko, the director of the Nikolai Vavilov All-Russia Institute of Plant Genetic Resources [VIR] told TASS on Monday.

The Global Seed Vault on Svalbard was created precisely ten years ago. Its commissioning took place on February 26, 2008. The Norwegian government shelled out $9 million for its construction.

At present, the vault reports to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO]. Its main task is to prevent the depletion of the genetic diversity of seeds as a result of any possible global upheavals.

"We have an agreement with the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which operates the vault, to transfer for deposit there the doublets of seed plant collections," Dr. Dzyubenko said. "We’ll transfer 2,200 specimens of seeds there to mark the 10th anniversary of its foundation."

Most of the doublets to be delivered to Svalbard are those of food plants - wheat, barley, oats and grain legumes.

"[VIR is sending there] only the plants that help maintain food security," Dr. Dzyubenko said. "The global vault is meant for keeping up the diversity of cultivated plants that could be used in the situations of climate calamities, space and/or thermonuclear wars. That’s why the seeds are kept there only for foods and agriculture."

The Global Seed Vault on Svalbard has about 900,000 specimens of seeds from plant collections of more than 70 depositaries of genetic materials from around the world.

FAO assessments say this deposition amounts to 40% of all the unique specimens of seeds worldwide.

Any gene bank, either a government-controlled or private one, as well as institutes, NGOs or companies that have collections of seeds of their own can join the project.

The All-Russia Institute of Plant Genetic Resources boasts of having one of the most grandiose collections, which includes among other things the seeds of plants that are believed to have become extinct out in the wild.

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