Talk:Svalbard Global Seed Vault

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Error with Norwegian name[edit]

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault (also called Norwegian Seed Bank or globalt sikkerhetshvelv for frø på Svalbard) is a "doomsday" seedbank under construction on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen in the remote arctic Svalbard archipelago.

globalt sikkerhetshvelv for frø på Svalbard. This isn't like, the norwegian name for the seed vault. I can say so with certainty because this "name" is phrased generically. It says "(a) global security vault for seeds on Svalbard", and not "The ..." Noone, not even Norway would name something like this in a generic term.

No specific name seems to have been given yet. But I can see multiple references to Svalbard globale frøhvelv, but in the end it will probably get a very fancy UN-ish name dreamt up by a very clever marketing executive deep within the Norwegian government. Something like Svalseed or Svalvault. But don't quote me on it! ;) the--dud 18:58, 21 July 2006 (UTC)

The name "genetic ark" has also been around (in the Nordic langiuages, at least: genetisk ark). That's the phrase i first used when looking ofr news about this on the web, but it seems to be less spread among web users [I don't have to point out here that google and yahoo are not full-text archives of the web and can't be used to determine if a phrase was around on the www (or even in a certain top domain like .no or .de) at/before any given moment!)

How about NORAD (Norwegian Organic Repository of Accumulated DNA)? ;-) Strausszek August 20, 2006 19.27 (CET)

Misc Comments[edit]

I am totally for genetic engineering, but a big part of these kinds of banks is to have something to go back to if one of the plants we make gets out of control and the old version no longer exists. Say we make a new kind of corn but a few decades from now when everyone is using it a new bug comes along and finds a weakness in this new crop. Seeds from the now-exinct original versions would be a great resource. I know it's an awkward addition so if anyone could help me out I would be quite grateful. --Mboverload 18:04, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

I have nothing to add, but thank you for making this article. I think this is sooo cool. Seriously, this made my day.Atinoda 05:48, 23 April 2006 (UTC)

The Lemma should be "Svalbard Global Seed Vault". -- Simplicius 22:51, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

re:Mboverload (on the needs for this even if there isn't a nuke war) Yes, exactly. The banana is a case in point, it's arguably one of the five most cultivated/transformed of all cultured food plants (and it's been that long before the chance of direct genetic modification arose) and so it's extremely vulnerable to new diseases. It's more or less been driven further to avoid attacks from new diseases, as well as to increase size of the fruit. In fifty or seventy years time, the banana as we know it may no longer be around in the supermarket. When that kind happens, it's vital to have backup of a less cultivated form.

Being from Sweden , one of the countries that have been in on the old project of a seed bank in Svalbard for a long time (back into the eighties), I heard about it some years ago (the mine facilities which are now scheduled to be moved to the new vault). I'll add something about the earlier history of the project from Swedish and Norwegian sources, and I think I'll check up if there have been parallel projects in other countries, I guess Canada would be a likely candidate. Strausszek 13:25, 20 august 2006 [CET]

It seems the US governemnt is taking steps to keep up old stocks of genome in cattle which would disappear in the breeding of high-efficient strains. This is from an article posted in early 2003 at the web pgae "Food Systems Insider" "To protect the country against the negative effects of inbreeding, as well as other man-made and natural threats, the United States government has built a genetic ark of semen and embryos consisting of various livestock breeds. The National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation is charged with making sure the crucial genetic diversity survives the tendency of industry to favor the most productive animals, which narrows a specie's gene pool." Strausszek 01:35, August 21 2006 (CET)

Coordinates and map[edit]

Could we add GPS coordinates and a map of the exact place the vault is located here? Future generation could possibly look here for more information on that subject matter, methinks. Peter S. 19:08, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

There are coordinates on the article, but I'm rather sure they are inaccurate. I saw the vault when it was under construction, and I think it is closer to the airport than indicated here. Also, there's nothing much around the entrance as seen here, and that's not consistent with the buildings this points to. Kjetil Kjernsmo (talk) 21:50, 21 May 2015 (UTC)
Kjetil Kjernsmo, I've fixed the coordinates to "78.235867, 15.491374". I can't imagine where the previous set came from, but yes, they were obviously incorrect. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Huntster (talkcontribs) 20:21, 21 May 2015‎
FYI, most detailed and probably correct plans of the vault that I found is here and here. Based on them and other descriptions about vault sizing found on the Internet I mapped approximate location of the underground construction on OpenStreetMaps. Alt-sysrq (talk) 14:35, 6 September 2015 (UTC)

Svalbard Global Seed Vault (also called Norwegian Seed Bank)[edit]

this is an error. the Norwegian Seed Bank will remain serperate and is located within a disussed mine. the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a new construction near to the Norwegian Seed Bank

Good new BBC report[edit]

"'Doomsday' vault design unveiled", 9 February 2007.

Lots of details here including several images that, if taken from the original source, may be acceptable for us. violet/riga (t) 10:37, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

I have used the images provided to create a 3d model and upload an image. Fosnez 13:54, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
Great work - well done! violet/riga (t) 07:15, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

Error in grammar ?[edit]

the comment "but the vault's relative inaccessibility will facilitate monitoring human activity" to me makes no sense at all. As there is no citation I'm not sure what the author was trying to say - any ideas ? ahpook 13:03, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

Because no one's normally around, any visitors will stand out like a sore thumb.--JO 24 (talk) 10:16, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Strange Units[edit]

Why is "expecting to raise about $10^4/a"? included in the article. For the sake of understandig and speed, and everyday normal language shouldnt this be "expecting to raise about $10000 per annum". Bmgoau (talk) 07:55, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

"In recent years, some national genebanks have also been destroyed by war and civil strife"?[edit]

Examples? --Paul Pot (talk) 14:57, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

No Permanent Staff?[edit]

I saw on a news report this morning that they were going to have armed security. Is this temporary? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Posikyle (talkcontribs) 19:38, 26 February 2008 (UTC)

Illicit drugs seeds?[edit]

I think it would be interesting to know if they are storing seeds for illicit drugs in the vault. (I don't know the answer) -Ryan —Preceding unsigned comment added by Benchcomptons (talkcontribs) 02:03, 27 February 2008 (UTC)

The seeds are not illicit, the possession of these seeds might be illicit. And that depends on the country. I guess Norwegian laws apply. Paul Pot (talk) 22:49, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

Antarctic would be a better place[edit]

I'm an agronomist.Well, I think that in near South pole, a better place for a global seed vault.Because of climate and no country would have total control. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:05, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

Construction in Antarctica is prohibitively expensive due to its remoteness, climate, and lack of infrastructure. You're right, though, if the costs were the same, it would be better near the South Pole. This is all original research, though, so we can't put it in the article. -kotra (talk) 17:41, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

Who are behind it?[edit]

On the site of Global Research one can find an article about the background of the vault. Monsanto, big food firms, GM crop corporations and the Rockefellers are in control. The vault serves to protect their interests. The article can be found here:

This HTML is my source for the information below[edit] [Unreliable fringe source?] Additional investors behind the Svalbard Seed Bank include the questionable involvement of the GMO companies Monsanto and the Syngenta Foundation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Smarrie (talkcontribs) 04:36, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

a "controversy" section?[edit]

I'm surprised not to find a "criticisms" or "controversy" section in this article; it seems that the GSV might be a controversial thing (among non-crazy, non-conspiracy theory people) for a few reasons:

  1. people might disagree that it takes sufficient (or the right kind of) precautions to preserve seed viability.
  2. people might disagree that the GSV is necessary or an "efficient" way to spend money.
  3. people might think that the GSV is an "admission of defeat" and that it could in the future legitimize things that may decrease actual seed diversity.

Perhaps those more familiar with the project could add some more information on this? Sdedeo (tips) 23:44, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

Clarification on Role of Monsanto at the Seed Vault[edit]

Around the internet and on Wikipedia there have been references to the involvement of Monsanto Corporation in the Seed Vault. Almost all of these references source the William F. Engdahl article written in Global Research (referenced on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault page). While this article does list some accurate donors to the Global Crop Diversity Trust, the listing of Monsanto was an error.

Monsanto has not deposited seeds at the Seed Vault. The list of depositors in the Seed Vault is now referenced on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault page. Neither has the corporation supported the building or operations of the Seed Vault. Monsanto has not donated to the Global Crop Diversity Trust. The list of donors to the Trust is referenced on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault page. As such, it's irrelevant to include assertions on the viability of Monsanto's seeds.

Only the depositors of seed at the Seed Vault have access to their seeds. The depositor has the sole right of access to materials stored in the Seed Vault. No one has access to anyone else’s seeds from the Seed Vault. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Crop.Trust (talkcontribs) 10:24, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

Unsure if this is just conspiracy, but...[edit]

According to that, the vault serves another purpose should the above happen. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Zevvi (talkcontribs) 13:47, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

Err, totally bogus. Neither video mentioned anything about a Planet X, so I have no idea where he got that. Possibly just made up, since it is just user-generated content. Feel free to disregard. Huntster (t@c) 00:46, 18 March 2009 (UTC)

Targeted for Destruction by Russia or China? (Nuclear Weapons)[edit]

Since Norway is a member of NATO, is it likely that there are nuclear weapons targeted on this location by Russia or China? --Radical Mallard June 28, 2009, 5:47 AM EST

Irrelevant to this article, unless for some reason a source specifically introduces this as a significant issue, which they won't, because such targets are not made public (usually). In the future, please don't use article talk pages for simple discussion, and don't refactor someone else's words, as you did to the title of the section above this one. Huntster (t@c) 11:05, 28 June 2009 (UTC)

Well can we debate it as a theoretical point with a goal being to discover what types of benefit it could have for those groups and encourage further digging from that discussion to support a possible looking into on what potential impacts an attack might have? If naught comes up then naught is there. Cs302b (talk) 04:08, 14 July 2010 (UTC)

Well, like I said, this page is for discussing the article itself, not possible scenarios involving the vault. Anything like that would be original research. I love such types of debate...this just isn't the place for it. Huntster (t @ c) 06:52, 14 July 2010 (UTC)


The article says that Spitsbergen was chosen for the vault because of its lack of tectonic activity, but the Svalbard article mentions earthquakes of magnitudes 6.2 and 6.5 in the last two years. Has this caused any problems? PhilUK (talk) 18:36, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

Credit for this idea?[edit]

Shouldn't Dr Cary Fowler, Exec. Dir. Global Crop Diversity Trust and others be mentioned as founders for the Seed Vault? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:46, 14 June 2010 (UTC)

If you have a solid third-party source that credits him and those others as founders, then I see no reason why not. To be honest, the history section is pretty abysmal right now. Huntster (t @ c) 09:09, 14 June 2010 (UTC)


I think the images have an issue. The images of the floor plan and the artist's rendition are different. One shows the office on the left and one shows the office on the right. Hum richard (talk) 20:15, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

That's true, though I'd guess it is just an issue of one of the images got mirrored along the publication or production route. Either way, they are just there to give a general idea of the layout, though of course finding out the proper configuration would be a good thing. Huntster (t @ c) 06:57, 14 July 2010 (UTC)


That crystal-like structure above the entrance: What is is and what does it mean? -- megA (talk) 14:53, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

I believe it is just decorative; something an sculptor made for the project. I don't know any of the particulars. Huntster (t @ c) 06:58, 14 July 2010 (UTC)

Amount of time seeds will be potential[edit]

Should the electricity that is cooling the seeds fail the temperature will still maintain a suitable temperature for storage for some time, as I've read. All signs point, though, to the idea that eventually these seeds will fail due to age at this higher temperature. Can we find some more documentation on how long of a lifetime this project could be considered viable? At some time they will fail and at different temperatures this will happen at different rates. What are the best and worst case future scenarios for the length of time a seed can continue to be viable under this set of variables over a set number of years. Cs302b (talk) 04:01, 14 July 2010 (UTC)

This is an interesting thought...I recall hearing a time frame given somewhere, which took into account the average temperature the permafrost in that area stays at, but I've not seen anything which accounted for possible differences in temperature, due to global warming for example. I'll try to relocate that source; it might even be in one of the sources already listed in the article...I just don't remember. Huntster (t @ c) 06:56, 14 July 2010 (UTC)

In Pop Culture[edit]

The seed vault was on the latest episode of futurama (season 6 episode 13) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:00, 27 November 2010 (UTC)

Removed external links[edit]

Per WP:EL, I've removed a number of inappropriate and extraneous external links, leaving only some generic links directly pertaining to SGSV. Some of these may be very useful for inline citations, so I'm dropping them here in case someone can find a valid use for them. Huntster (t @ c) 07:02, 4 July 2011 (UTC)

Include artist ...[edit]

  • Japanese sculptor Mitsuaki Tanabe (田辺光彰) presented a work to the vault named "The Seed 2009 / Momi In-Situ Conservation".Cite error: A <ref> tag is missing the closing </ref> (see the help page). (talk) 20:51, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

I have little objection, except that it's duplicated, and the ja: link should not be in the article. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 10:06, 12 July 2011 (UTC)


Obviously it shouldn't be duplicated in the text, but I see no issue with including the ja: link, though at the moment their article doesn't offer much content. However, it is more likely to improve before an en: article is deemed warranted. Huntster (t @ c) 10:10, 12 July 2011 (UTC)


Are there any nearby glaciers that could one day in the far future roll over the vault? --Guy Macon (talk) 14:51, 18 September 2015 (UTC)

(...Sound of Crickets...) --Guy Macon (talk) 20:22, 14 March 2016 (UTC)
@Guy Macon:, sorry, I didn't see this before. Svalbard in general has a ridiculously high percentage of glacier coverage, around 60% at times, but the area of Longyearbyen is fairly clear of them. It's one of the reasons the site was chosen: dry air, elevated and almost plateau-like terrain. Check out this map of Svalbard, zoomed in on the area around the Seed Vault. Glaciers are in white. Platåbreen is the nearest glacier to the site, and it isn't going anywhere quickly. Sure, there's always the possibility that a future ice age could roll over the entire region, but that's so far off that I imagine we'll have developed far more enduring technologies for preservation that simply burying seeds underground. Huntster (t @ c) 22:53, 14 March 2016 (UTC)

Syrian Civil War Prompts First Withdrawal From Doomsday Seed Vault In The Arctic[edit]

The seeds requested by researchers include "samples of wheat, barley and grasses suited to dry regions" to replace "seeds in a gene bank near the Syrian city of Aleppo that has been damaged by the war."

--Guy Macon (talk) 06:00, 24 September 2015 (UTC)

Seed packet construction[edit]

The article was recently changed to state that the seed packets are of three-ply foil construction, versus the previous four-ply. This is of course backed by a citation, but there's an issue. While this link clearly states three-ply, this link on the same site and in the same section says four-ply. I've emailed the Crop Trust to get a clarification on this, as I'd like to not see any back and forth editing using different sources. Minor issue, but I thought I'd bring it up here. Also pinging @MonisAnwar and M3tainfo: just as an FYI about this. Huntster (t @ c) 15:51, 18 May 2016 (UTC)

Recent publicity over acute melting weather[edit]

When I started seeing these reports pop up, I was second-guessing that it was speaking of a recent event, and thought it must have been a lag from something that happened in a previous summer. Because the climate here clearly has above freezing weather in the summer. So I guess while melting weather stands out more when it's not in the summer, but how does something similar to this not happen every summer in recent years which are well above freezing? This is on the same latitude as Longyearbean and the elevation of a few hundred feet is not nearly significant enough to drop the temperature anywhere near 20° less than the climate data for Longyearbean. B137 (talk)

You are right about the temperatures:
From Longyearbyen#Climate: "Average summer highs are typically 3 to 7 °C"
From Spitsbergen#Climate: " average summer temperature at 4 °C to 6 °C)"
From the same articles, Longyearbean averages 24mm of rain in July and 30mm in August, while the uninhabited east side of Spitsbergen sometimes sees more than 1,000mm.
Clearly those temperature are not enough to melt the permafrost around the Global Seed Vault, so the problem seems to be that the seed vault was designed so that rainwater and snowmelt can flow into the tunnel. Rebuild the entrance so that the opening is a couple of meters above the local ground level and they will be immune to rain or melting snow. They will be in big trouble if the sea level rises more that 130 meters, but they will have plenty if time to relocate before that happens.. --Guy Macon (talk) 06:58, 22 May 2017 (UTC)
what do you mean? Clearly those temperatures are enough to melt the surface. And they make it sound like it was a permafrost problem not rain or snow melt. But that could be a misnomer. However if it is permafrost what are the chances it would melt significantly in May, yet doesn't melt significantly by September in any of the previous years? B137 (talk) 01:34, 23 May 2017 (UTC)
What sources " make it sound like it was a permafrost problem not rain or snow melt"? The source I added to the article yesterday say the exact opposite. --Guy Macon (talk) 03:56, 23 May 2017 (UTC)
A lot of websites are parroting that it was melting permafrost. Arctic stronghold of world's seeds flooded after permafrost melts. B137 (talk) 01:36, 24 May 2017 (UTC)
@Guy Macon:Actually both places the flood is mentioned, the reference article cites permafrost right in the title, so all the references say permafrost. B137 (talk) 18:51, 27 May 2017 (UTC)
@Guy Macon: So how bout it? Seems to be unanimous mention of permafrost, in both places and in all related references. B137 (talk) 18:27, 2 June 2017 (UTC)
I have raised this question at Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard#Svalbard Global Seed Vault and Permafrost melting.
You are at Longyearbean, at roughly the same latitude and altitude as the seed vault, right? Does the permafrost thaw in the summer where you are? (Look at our permafrost article; I am talking about the isothermal layer, where the actual seed vault is embedded, not the active layer on the surface).
The problem I am having is that the sources don't specify whether they are talking about the active layer, the isothermal layer, or the layer in between. The iosothermal layyer, by definition, doesn't change temperature just because of a particularly warm summer. and our article on permafrost says "the zone of continuous permafrost might have moved 100 kilometres (62 mi) poleward since 1899, but accurate records only go back 30 years." --Guy Macon (talk) 03:36, 4 June 2017 (UTC)