Monday, June 19, 2006

Fort Knox of Seeds!

Carved into a mountain on a remote island above the arctic circle, with almost half the length of a football field, it will have looming fences, motion detectors and steel airlock doors. Outside, free-roaming polar bears will provide the first line of defence. No, this is not a villain's lair from a James Bond flick, nor is it a top secret installation that Ethan Hunt has to break in to. It is, in fact, the seed vault.

To be built by the Norwegians, and endorsed by over a hundred nations, it will be what many call the "doomsday vault". It is the ultimate backup in the event of a global catastrophe -- a nuclear war, asteroid hit or biological disaster. It will store the crop seeds, that over 10,000 years of known human history have been nurtured to feed the masses. Millions and millions of of seeds, from virtually every known variety of food on the planet will be stored there.

Some excerpts...

Scientists estimate there are 2 million varieties of plants used for food and forage today. That includes an astonishing 100,000 varieties of rice, the major staple of the human diet, and more than 1,000 varieties of banana, a nutritious fruit of global importance.

Seeds from these crops, which can be smaller than poppy seeds and as large as coconuts, are invaluable repositories of plant DNA. They are the raw material that farmers and researchers rely on to develop more productive and nutritious plants that can cope with climate change, new diseases or pests.

About 1,400 seed banks already exist, including large national collections in the United States and China; international ones maintained by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), funded by the World Bank,
the Food and Agriculture Organization and the United Nations; and small ones at universities and research labs. Seeds are typically stored at minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit, and are periodically removed and germinated to grow plants, whose fresh seeds are redeposited.

Now, I wonder when Hollywood will take up this as the next go-to place to break in to!

No comments: