The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, better known as the Doomsday Seed Vault, is basically a secure seed bank on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near Longyearbyen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago, 810-miles from the North Pole. Approximately 1.5 million distinct seed samples of agricultural crops are thought to exist. The variety and volume of seeds stored will depend on the number of countries participating – the facility has a capacity to conserve 4.5 million. The first seeds arrived in January 2008. Five percent of the seeds in the vault, about 18,000 samples with 500 seeds each, come from the Centre for Genetic Resources of the Netherlands (CGN), part of Wageningen University, Netherlands. By 2013, approximately one-third of the genera diversity stored in gene banks globally was represented at the Seed Vault. Click here to view more pictures of the Doomsday Seed Vault. Continue reading for two more videos and additional information.
The seed vault functions like a safe deposit box in a bank. The bank owns the building and the depositor owns the contents of his or her box. The Government of Norway owns the facility and the depositing genebanks own the seeds they send. The deposit of samples in Svalbard does not constitute a legal transfer of genetic resources. In genebank terminology this is called a “black box” arrangement. Each depositor signs a Deposit Agreement with NordGen, acting on behalf of Norway. The Agreement makes clear that Norway does not claim ownership over the deposited samples and that ownership remains with the depositor, who has the sole right of access to those materials in the seed vault. No one has access to anyone else’s seeds from the seed vault