After 'Doomsday Vault' Withdrawal Comes a Deposit

Group formerly in Syria deposits seeds for safeguarding, a milestone for the vault
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2018 8:07 AM CST
Updated Feb 14, 2022 12:06 PM CST
$9M Doomsday Vault Getting $13M Upgrade
This is a March 2, 2016, file photo of an exterior view of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the secure seed bank on Svalbard, Norway.   (Heiko Junge/ NTB scanpix, File via AP)

Updated: The world's "Doomsday Vault" opened its doors Monday to accept more seeds from abroad. The vault in Norway was taking seeds for safeguarding from facilities in Uganda, Sudan, New Zealand, Germany, and Lebanon, reports Reuters. Most notably, the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas, formerly located in Syria, was among the depositors. The same group made the first-ever withdrawal from the Norway vault in 2015 to replace specimens damaged in war. That the group, which has since moved its headquarters to Beirut, can now make a deposit proves the vault's worth, says a Norwegian official. A story from February 2018 follows:

Monday was a "really significant" day for the so-called Doomsday Vault—and not just because it was its 10th birthday. The Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway, has since 2008 stored seeds within a mountain on a Norwegian island 800 miles from the North Pole, and on Monday the number of crops it stores crossed the 1 million mark, thanks to a new shipment that included varieties of black-eyed pea and the Bambara groundnut. The BBC puts its number of deposits at 1,059,646, which is 90,000 less than what could have been following a withdrawal related to the war in Syria. That's enough to nearly fill one of the vault's three chambers, leaving room for what scientists believe will be the eventual total count: 2.2 million crops.

Voice of America reports 73 institutions from around the globe have contributed seeds, and it points out a notable country not found on the list: China, though it's apparently discussing the possibility of making a deposit. Seeds aren't the only thing pouring into the vault: money, too, in order to extend the vault's "viability," as Bloomberg puts it. Norway on Friday announced $13 million in upgrades to what was originally a $9 million construction job, reports Reuters. It quotes the Agriculture Ministry's description of the planned work: "construction of a new, concrete-built access tunnel, as well as a service building to house emergency power and refrigerating units and other electrical equipment that emits heat through the tunnel." (There was a breach at the vault last year.)

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