Monday, February 27, 2012

"The Doomsday Vault"


Wednesday, 29 February is the Earth Arc Day. On this special day (every four years) people on the Earth planet are encouraged to collect some local seeds, put them in an envelope or bag , and ship them to a seed bank for storage that will ensure preservation of world's diversity of food crops in case of global disaster (climate change, tzunami, plant disease etc). The stored seeds could remain undamaged for decades, and even centuries.

There are some 1500 seed banks around the world, but they are rather vulnerable, for various reasons: mismanagement, lack of funds, energy failure, civil unrest etc.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault (nicknamed 'Doomsday Vault' by the Media), opened four years ago on 26 February 2008 and financed by Norway, is supposed to function as a Back-up for all other seed banks.

Svalbard is an arctic arhipelago ; the seed bank built inside one of its mountains is considered better and safer than the ones in the other parts of the world. The reasons are obvious. The place is remote, far from human threats and dangers (such as wars), it's geologically stable (almost no earthquakes), its climate is freezing (which is optimal for the preservation of seeds ). This seed bank is built deep into the mountain and high above sea level to withstand a nuclear attack or flooding, and is very well guarded.

entrance to Svalbard vault (Web picture)

The seeds (only original samples , not genetically modified ones) are stored behind many locked doors, in sealed air-tight packages put inside sealed plastic boxes. The conditions in this storage facility are monitored both electronically and physically.

boxes with stored seeds (Web picture)

There are some nice, interesting videos on YouTube taking us on a tour to the vault. Here's a short one:

No doubt, a seed bank is a smart concept, Svalbard Vault is a fascinating project. Yet, the whole idea of seed storage is quite thought-provoking. I can't help asking myself this: what if some elite group gets hold of the vault to dominate world's food supply? In case of a global nuclear disaster, what good would these undamaged seeds do if the soil and atmosphere are contaminated with radiation? Let's hope there won't be any nuclear disaster and nothing bad will happen to the vault either.


  1. Wow Duta! I have never heard of any of this. Thank you so much...very thought provoking.

  2. I never heard of a seed bank but it is a good case

  3. Gosh DUTA! How do you find out about these things? I feel like I live with my head in the sand but thankfully you enlighten me and make me feel much smarter!

    This was such an interesting post for so many reasons. My first thought was that there must be people that work there year round. Where do they sleep, live? How do they handle the cold? You say it's well guarded, are there guards outside?

    Then I read your questions about an elite group getting a hold of these seeds and about radiation and my questions seemed so basic. This is very interesting. I will definitely read up on this more. My dad who was a farmer his whole life would be very intersted in knowing this information!

  4. Again a very thought provoking post. I for one was unaware of it's existence. Thanks for sharing. Peace

  5. Wow Duta! You amaze me! I have never heard of this at all. I am going to have to do some research, you have left me curious as to where the others are and what is written about them. Thanks for sharing!
    until next time... nel

  6. I go with the let's not shoot too!

    Good post!

  7. This was so interesting. I had no clue such vaults existed in the world. Ya always post the neatest stuff!

    God bless ya and have a magnificent week sweet Duta!!!

  8. this is really fascinating Duta, thank you for sharing, I've never heard of this before.

  9. Thanks for taking us to this wonderful place. It does serve a great purpose. Do not know if I too could deposit some seeds of my choice!

  10. This is definitely a wonderful concept. I'm hearing about this for the first time. So, thanks. But I'm wondering about some things. What if in the next twenty years, the soil and other things change. How will be seeds be useful. Well, maybe they've devised a way for that as well.

    Joy always,

  11. I did not know about this day! Interesting!

  12. Wow! The things I find out from you are awesome! I feel like Alice! With my head in the sand!

    Let's pray that we never need it! or that That Elite group does not take over if it IS ever needed!

    Very thought provoking for sure!

  13. Jennifer D,

    It hasn't been kept in secret or something like this. It's just that the Media doesn't mention it often, as there are "juicier" topics than that to discuss.

    Kim & Stuff..,

    Yes, we have to admit that preserving seeds is a good way of thinking forward, taking care of the future generations.


    Thanks for your kind words.
    There's a lot of information about all this on the internet; yet, there's also some disinformation (especially regarding the physical guarding of the place)- for security reasons, I guess.

    Anyway, the place is remote, on an island administered by Norway, but there's a little village of locals not very far from Svalbard and it's possible that the inhabitants play some role in the guarding and maintanance of the facility.

    I'm sure your father, the farmer, will find great interest in this subject.

    Lady Di Tn,

    You're welcome! Yesterday (26.2.2012)was Svalbard vault's fourth opening anniversary. Despite the importance of this subject,it's not emphasized in the Media as there are 'sexier' topics to be dealt with.

  14. Nel,

    Good for you to do some research on your own! There's much information on the web, and the topic is interesting and mind- broadening.

    One Fly,

    Thanks. I'm with you in the non-shooting issue. We have enough violence in the world already.


    Glad you find this interesting.
    Well, now you have a little more than a clue on this topic.
    God bless you too!


    I have to agree with you; the topic of seed banks is fascinating, and I'm glad I wrote a post on it as there are people who haven't even heard about it.

  15. This is so interesting, Duta. Thanks for writing about it!
    Cheers from Cottage Country!

  16. P.N.Subramanian,

    Welcome to my little blog!
    Indeed, Svalbard and all the other seed banks in the world serve a very important purpose -preservation of the world's food species.

    Susan Deborah,

    There are a lot of speculations about this whole concept of seed banks. If you can find the time to read some stuff on the Web , you might find adequate answers and explanations.
    On the whole, it's a very positive concept.


    Now, that you've heard about it, you'll be curious and you'll want to know more. That's good; after all, everything about food crops is important.


    Thank you for your kind words.
    Let's pray indeed, that we never need the seeds stored in the seed banks.

  17. Duta- Fascinating indeed. I hadn't heard of seed banks, or this special day. It's so interesting. I'm going to read up on the some more--you've really sparked something for me here! :)

  18. How interesting!! I was completely clueless about this, until reading your post. Once again, I thank you for a great story!

  19. I hadn't heard of one on Svalbard, but I had heard of seed banks... Saving seeds from year to year is a good idea which our ancestors used regularly; it was the only way to have a crop each year!

  20. Jenn Jilks,

    Hi Jenn from Cottage Country,
    Glad you find the topic of seed banks interesting.


    I'm glad my post 'sparked something' for you. Please go ahead and do some more reading!


    You're welcome. Hope it has awaken your sense of curiosity regarding the topic of seed preservation.


    Well, you seem to know things about crops and seed banks that most people don't.

  21. My dear friend Duta
    Very interesting post!!!
    I did not know about that ...
    In thanks, we showed it,with your wonterful photos and interestings video!!!
    Many greetings and kisses

  22. I saw 1 or 2 documentaries about the Vault on our docu-channel, but to be honest, I had almost the same thoughts as you.

    Thank you for posting this, I think I will google more about the Earth Arc Day, since I didn't know about that particular part, sounds interesting enough!

  23. This is truly amazing. I had not heard of seed banks before. Thank you for sharing this with us. Thanks also for visiting my blog today. So nice to see you there.

  24. This is a god thing. It looks like Maine all that snow. I think my computer is broken, I haven't got a comment all day. tHE TOUUGHT OF WAR IS SCARY, WE HAVE SO MANY THINGS IN THIS WORLD TO WORRY ABOUT BESIDES A WAR.


  25. magda,

    Glad you find my post interesting and that you liked the photos and the video.
    Blessings to you too!


    You've got the right attitude - to google and find out more about the Earth Arc Day topic.

    Welcome! Almost all the commenters here have mentioned not having heard about the seed banks in general and Svalbard in particular. So you're not alone in this.

    La Petite Gallery,

    Actually what you see is the snow of Antarctica. Svalbard is on an arctic island.

    Yes, I certainly agree with you that war is scarry.

  26. Duta,

    What an informative post. We humans definitely need to be in support of this project, not for the nuclear threat but for the much more pressing threat that is already underway to destroy our food supply. I am speaking of the GMO (genetically modified organisms) that now represent much of our food supply. For those of you who don't know about GMO, it is a process by which plants have been altered by the insertion of pesticides/herbicides, which remain in the plants dna so that whenever humans or animals digest that product they are digesting the poisons as well. Studies to date that have been accomplished other than by the big biotech industries (Monsanto, Bayer, etc.) are showing dna/chromosone alterations resulting in the test subjects becoming sterile within three generations. Not only do these 'super' plants cross-pollinate to other plants, but once eaten by animals (cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, etc.) they also pass these toxins into our human bodies through the meats.

    Officials in the US and world-wide are siding with the giant biotech companies by allowing these altered products to be placed in our food sources without requiring that they be labeled so that we know what we are ingesting. Within the last month Washington State was considering a bill to require such labeling but it was defeated. (Do we wonder how much money is spent by the biotech companies in buying support for these hideous and dangerous organisms?)

    If you don't think this effects you, please take a few minutes to research some of the information. I have listed a couple of websites where you can obtain information. So far the plants and foods that are most contaminated are: corn, soybeans, sugar beets, canola and cotton which other than 'organic' are mostly GMO. You might hear them referred to as "BT", i.e., 'BT Corn', etc.

    If you are gardeners then buy heirloom seeds or gather your own from your safe plants. If you do not grow your own foods, then by all means try to buy as much organic as you can.

  27. Thank you for the detailed information on such an important topic like Genetic Modified Organisms (GMO). I've heard a lot of the name 'Monsanto' , and not in a positive context.

    I 'll certainly check the websites suggested by you, and thanks for the advice given in the last part of your comment.

  28. Thanks, Duta, it is a very important issue to us all. If you would like to read about the proposed GMO labeling bill that was voted down please look at this site:

    It boggles my mind that the very people we vote into office fail us so miserably once they get the power of their positions. I am thankful for the individuals/governments who are putting forth the effort to protect healthy food sources for what may become a very serious situation around the world. Thank you so much for bringing this discussion to us.

  29. I had no idea. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing this! Incredible. And you put such a neat twist on it.

  30. I very much enjoyed this post, DUTA. I was vaguely aware of the concept of the seed bank, though, your post offered interesting details that I was unaware of. Very thought provoking, I've brought the subject up to my husband a few times since reading it.

  31. C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson,
    Thanks for the link.
    Labelling genetically modified food is of the utmost importance, but if it's left to the politicians it could take ages.

    The 3-bell-ranch which grows real food is a very interesting read.

    Tanya Reimer,

    You're welcome. There's lots of information on seed banks, on original / modified seeds - and it's all worth reading.


    Welcome to my little blog!
    I'm glad you liked the post, and even... mentioned it to your husband. Thank you.

  32. Duta, thank you for stopping by my blog, and also for sharing this information, which I intend to research.

  33. it's reassuring to know places like this exist. and it's also a reflection of the totally unstable world in which we live. crazy times we live in with crazy people at the controls. the vault is a very practical idea, unfortunately.

  34. 'What a good idea' I thought when I first started reading your piece, but then I thought how vulnerable that Vault looked, and how much of a target it might be for those whose interest in the project is only to do harm to it. Hope it, and the other seed stores, stay safe.

  35. Linda O'Connel,

    You're welcome. I'm glad you intend to research the info mentioned in my post.

    Ed Pillola,

    I totally agree with you. The words 'reassuring' and 'practical' referring to the vault, as well as the word 'unstable' referring to the world of today - are very accurate and relevant.


    Thank you. Multumesc pentru urarea de 'la multi ani'. Este foarte dragut din partea ta.
    Iti urez si eu Numai Bine!


    There's a good side and a bad side to everything.
    I'm glad to join you in your hope that the seed banks stay safe.

  36. Duta, That was on TV last week. You are ahead of the Media, Tee Hee.
    It is a weird place, gives me an uneasy feeling just thing about Doomsday.
    Spring is coming soon. I have to get a new hip. Ouch! guess I'll be laid up for 3-4 weeks..

  37. I had never heard of this seed vault, a very interesting concept that makes sense! But what would happen to it if mankind disappeared, would it keep going electronically for ever?
    Greetings, DeeBee

  38. La Petite Gallery,

    Thanks for informing me about the topic being on the Media last week.
    Sorry, about your having to have 'a new hip'. Be well soon!

    Dee Bee L,

    Welcome to my little blog!
    To answer your question - I doubt it. Even electronics has to be watched and checked by people.

    Greetings to you too!

  39. Interesting info, Duta! I don't even know if the US has a seed bank! Right now "food banks" are popping up all over the place.

  40. Emille,

    I don't know either. Iknow Bill Gates has invested millions in this arctic seed bank.