Frozen treasure

Some 860 000 seed samples from around the globe are held in storage in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago – to preserve the diversity of our food sources.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault on Spitsbergen, Norway
© Hermansen/mauritius

Whatever happens, our food crops will survive! Safely out of reach of the effects of war and natural disasters, seed back-up samples from the world’s biggest gene banks are stored in airtight foil packages inside sealed boxes in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on Spitsbergen. Wheat from the Middle East, barley from Tajikistan, amaranth from Ecuador – a broad variety of seeds is kept nicely chilled at minus 18 degrees Celsius. The seeds of some plant species will remain fertile at this temperature for many thousands of years.