Official information

Svalbard Global Seed Vault secures future seed

altThis year it is five years since the first boxes of seeds from food crops were carried into the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (photo). Today, more than 770,000 different seed samples are deposited in the Arctic vault for long-term storage.

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the opening of the seed vault, Minister of Agriculture and Food, Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, visited Svalbard. There he met with the International Advisory Council for the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, and also inspected the vault.

“The seed vault is a completely unique and incredibly fascinating facility. Here the precautionary principle in practised in the best possible manner by providing long-term storage for future seed,” Vedum says. “Without seed we would be empty-handed and without the ability to produce food. The seeds frozen in the mountains of Svalbard may help to adapt our crops to changing climatic conditions and be an important key to global food security,” says Minister of Agriculture and Food, Trygve Slagsvold Vedum.

Vedum also met with former Minister Åslaug Haga in Svalbard. On 25 February she took up position as new director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which is an important partner for the Ministry Agriculture and Food in the operation of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The Global Crop Diversity Trust is an independent, international trust for the protection of genetic diversity in agriculture. The trust is run by contributions from organizations and a number of governments, including the Norwegian government.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault is currently the collection with the greatest variety of seed samples in the world. Here seeds from the world's food crops are stored for future generations. This week, new shipments of seeds from Canada, the Netherlands, the Nordic area and the Seed Savers Exchange organization were deposited in the vault. Over the next few months new seed shipments from Thailand, Germany and Uzbekistan are expected.

It is Norway which formally owns the seed vault, with LMD as the responsible authority for Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Nordic Genetic Resource Centre is responsible for scientific operation, whilst Statsbygg operates the technical plant. Construction has cost almost NOK 50 million and has been entirely financed bythe Ministry of Agriculture and Food (LMD), the Ministry of the Environment (MD) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD).

The Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) has also been brought in as an active partner and will finance a substantial amount of the annual operating costs of the vault. The other operating costs will be financed by the government, through LMD. GCDT is also helping to secure operations by assisting developing countries in the packing and despatch of seed samples to Svalbard.

(Press release)


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