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Svalbard Global Seed Vault
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a shining example of people looking towards the future, considering what could happen, then preparing for the worst case scenario.
The purpose of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, owned by the Government of Norway, is to provide insurance against both incremental and catastrophic loss of crop diversity held in genebanks around the world. The Seed Vault offers secure protection for one of the most important natural resources on earth.
The distance from the front door of the portal building to the back of the Seed Vault is approximately 145.9 meters (478.7 feet). The width of the each storage room is approximately 9.5 to 10 meters (31.2 to 32.8 feet), the height is 6 meters (19.7 feet), and the length is approximately 27 meters (88.6 feet).
The region on Svalbard surrounding the Seed Vault is remote, severe, and inhabited by polar bears. Anyone seeking access to the seeds themselves will have to pass through four locked doors: the heavy steel entrance doors, a second door approximately 115 meters down the tunnel and finally the two keyed air-locked doors. Keys are coded to allow access to different levels of the facility. Not all keys unlock all doors.
There are currently over 300,000 samples stored in the Seed Vault, totaling over 150 million seeds. The Seed Vault has the capacity to store 4.5 million seed samples, more than the total number of varieties in existence. Each sample contains an average count of 500 seeds, so a maximum of 2.25 billion seeds could be stored in the facility.
The seeds are stored at -18° Celsius (-0.4° Fahrenheit), sealed in specially designed four-ply foil packages, placed in sealed boxes and stored on shelves inside the Seed Vault.
If properly stored and maintained at appropriate temperatures, some seeds in the Seed Vault will probably be viable for a millennium or more.
No GM seeds are stored in the Seed Vault.