Biotech Updates

Svalbard Global Seed Vault Officially Opens

February 29, 2008

The remote island of Svalbard in the Arctic Circle in Norway is home for the most comprehensive and diverse collection of food crop seeds in the world. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is designed to store duplicates of seeds from seed collections from around the globe and is an effort to secure genetic diversity in agriculture. On February 26, 2008, the Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, unlocked the vault, and with the African Nobel Peace Prize awardee and environmentalist Wangari Maathai placed the first seeds for storage.

Inaugural shipments of 100 million seeds originating from over 100 countries have already been received. Deposits range from staple varieties such as maize, rice, wheat, cowpea, and sorghum to eggplant, lettuce, barley, and potato. If seeds are lost as a result of natural disasters, war or lack of resources, the seed collections can be reestablished using seeds from Svalbard.

View a video of the opening ceremony by logging into