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Subdivisions Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 09:50 PM
Original message
Engineers Begin Critical “Cooling Down” of Arctic Doomsday Seed
A fascinating and necessary new technological program to save every variety of food seed for posterity.

I for one am glad to see this great triumph in food crop security from Norway. We may need it some day.


Innovative, Energy Efficient Refrigeration System Employs Vault’s Natural Sandstone
as “Cold Store” to Keep Facility at Steady -18C


LONGYEARBYEN, NORWAY (16 NOVEMBER 2007)—Refrigeration units began pumping
chilly air deep into an Arctic mountain cavern today, launching the innovative and critical
“cooling down” phase of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in advance of its official opening early
next year as a fail-safe repository of the world’s vital food crops. Svalbard is now three days into
the three-month “Polar Night” period when there is 24 hours of complete darkness.

Engineers working for the government of Norway, which is building the facility on the Svalbard
archipelago, launched the cooling operation that, over the next two months, will bring the
temperature of the sandstone rock surrounding the seed vault from its current -5 degrees Celsius
(23 degrees Fahrenheit), to -18 degrees Celsius (about 0 degrees Fahrenheit). The vault is to be
officially opened 26 February 2008.

“It’s very satisfying to see the vault evolve from a bold concept to an impressive facility that has
everything we need to protect crop biodiversity,” said Mr. Terje Riis-Johansen, Norway’s
Minister of Agriculture and Food.

“The seed vault is the perfect place for keeping seeds safe for centuries,” said Cary Fowler,
Executive Director of the Rome-based Global Crop Diversity Trust, which has partnered with
Norway and the Nordic Gene Bank on the establishment of the vault. “At these temperatures,
seeds for important crops like wheat, barley and peas can last for up to 10,000 years.”

-snip-

PRESS RELEASE (PDF file)
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 09:55 PM
Response to Original message
1. This is such a cool thing! (so to speak) I really appreciate you posting this update. rec'd (nt)
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al bupp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 11:44 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. There's a great New Yorker piece on this from sometime in Oct
Here's a link to a related audio piece from their website that parallels and augments the written material:

http://downloads.newyorker.com/mp3/070827_outloud_seabr...
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 07:01 PM
Response to Reply #4
18. I appreciate the link. Unfortunately, my slow dialup makes even audio files out of reach.
Thank you for your thoughtfulness, anyway.

I've been following the story of this seed vault for awhile now, it has cheered me immensely to know that this project is happening. I am also particularily delighted because my paternal grandmother was the first American-born child of Norwegian immigrants, so I love to hear good things about my ancestral homeland.

:D
sw
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Kurovski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 10:16 PM
Response to Original message
2. K&R. (nt)
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FreepFryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 11:38 PM
Response to Original message
3. Sick. How about protecting the existing crop diversity by outlawing GM crops? (n/t)
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MonkeyFunk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 11:45 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. You think that would solve the problem?
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Occulus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 11:49 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Saving pristine stock isn't "sick"
it's prudent.

It's more prudent to either 1) outlaw GM crops or 2) make GM crops unpatentable.

Aside: it's SO much fun to coin a word :D
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Canuckistanian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 11:52 PM
Response to Reply #3
8. GM crops aren't going to outlawed anytime soon
Best that we try to preserve what we have for the future.
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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 12:01 AM
Response to Reply #3
9. Not that simple - it's also about saving thousands and thousands of landraces and varieties
Landraces & varieties that were in dire danger of being lost with or without transgenic crops present in the fields or on the market.
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FreepFryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 12:06 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. 'saving' them is fine. Focusing on 'archiving' them instead of reversing the destruction isn't.
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 06:50 PM
Response to Reply #11
15. It's known as "division of labor". One groups takes care of archiving. Others are fighting GM foods.
Do honestly believe that just one organization should be expected to do it all?

Your responses on this thread have so far not been grounded in any logic that I can see.

sw
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 06:57 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. Well, he is anti-GM.
:shrug:
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 07:03 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. Cheap shot. And completely beside the point, in any case.
:P
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FreepFryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 07:39 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. If we favor this kind of apocalyptic mindset over restraining GM crops, we're screwed.
Edited on Mon Nov-19-07 07:43 PM by FreepFryer
Just having seeds in a vault will not 'restore' biodiversity. Our understanding of the biosphere and interspecial dependency is in its' infancy, and it will take a lot more knowledge for us to be able to 'repopulate' the natural world after the next equivalent 'colony collapse disorder' - one that (God forbid) decimates corn, potatoes or wheat.

The problem is that we have a partial and incomplete view of the biosphere - storing seeds does nothing to ensure a healthy, sustainable food supply.

In short, to those thinking this will ensure our natural diversity this is a panacea - nothing more. To those commenting on the value of archiving DNA, I have no argument.

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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 07:40 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. Yes, if we don't restrain GM crops, it'll be an apocalypse.
The ancient Mayans told us so.
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FreepFryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 07:44 PM
Response to Reply #22
23. You're already seeing 'Roundup Resistant' crops invading and displacing natural ones.
Edited on Mon Nov-19-07 07:45 PM by FreepFryer
The health and environmental problems arising from GM crops (a recent development) are already being seen. A pat and simplistic confidence that 'nothing will go wrong' is not grounded in logic.
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 07:45 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. And?
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FreepFryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 07:45 PM
Response to Reply #24
25. And what? I've made my point. Focusing on 'cold storage' does nothing to ensure biodiversity. (n/t)
Edited on Mon Nov-19-07 07:46 PM by FreepFryer
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 07:47 PM
Response to Reply #25
26. You're saying the roundup ready weeds got into the cold storage facility?
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FreepFryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 07:48 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. Of course not. Are you serious or just trolling? (nt)
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 07:49 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. Well if round-up weeds did not get into the cold storage facility...
then doesn't that mean it's protecting biodiversity?
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FreepFryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 07:50 PM
Response to Reply #28
29. Yawn. (n/t)
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 07:50 PM
Response to Reply #29
30. That's what I thought.
:shrug:
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FreepFryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 07:51 PM
Response to Reply #30
31. Yawn x2 (n/t).
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 07:51 PM
Response to Reply #31
32. Is yawning going to protect biodiversity?
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FreepFryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 07:53 PM
Response to Reply #32
33. Have a lovely day, brought to you by Monsanto Agribusiness. (n/t)
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 07:54 PM
Response to Reply #33
34. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
 
scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 08:00 PM
Response to Reply #21
35. You have no argument, period. Preserving seed stock is a good thing no matter what.
Fighting GM crops is a completely different front. It will take much longer. In the meantime, it is a GOOD thing that this organization has taken upon itself the task to preserve seed.

sw
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FreepFryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 08:02 PM
Response to Reply #35
36. I do have an argument - it's that the mindset behind storing seeds is false hope.
Edited on Mon Nov-19-07 08:08 PM by FreepFryer
Like storing paints instead of paintings and expecting to preserve the great art works of history.

Do you really expect we'll be able to restore the rich and so-far-unknown diversity of our current biosphere from a few seeds?

We shouldn't be looking at this as global 'food insurance'... it's not. And to the extent that such projects distract us from the crucial need to preserve and protect biodiversity in the food supply, it's sick.
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 08:13 PM
Response to Reply #36
37. It's more than we would have if they weren't doing it at all. Would you prefer that NO seeds were
being preserved?
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FreepFryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 08:17 PM
Response to Reply #37
38. No, as I've said I object to doomsday thinking v. responsible stewardship, not to seed storage. (nt)
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 08:35 PM
Response to Reply #38
39. So, you don't object to seed storage, right? And seed storage is what's being done.
What is your original objection expessed on this thread based on? Thought crime? (i.e. "doomsday thinking")

sw
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FreepFryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 08:39 PM
Response to Reply #39
40. No, I've made my point. Focusing on seed storage as a means of protecting diversity is flawed.
Edited on Mon Nov-19-07 08:44 PM by FreepFryer
it will preserve seeds, not a biosphere or ecosystem. And while we largely understand how seeds work, we're much less savvy about how the intricate relationships between the biosphere's multitude of species (food, humans and otherwise) work in nature.

A view of this project as effective 'food insurance' is therefore unfounded. It's not - it's a big fridge full of seeds.

When a story about protecting biodiversity from corporate GM crop infusion gets as much press column inches as the story about this 'Noah's Ark'-style effort at seed storage, I'll see no conflict. Until then, I see focusing on seed storage as crucial attention placed in the wrong direction - if we want to protect our food supply.
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 09:25 PM
Response to Reply #40
41. The thing is, it's NOT the only thing that's happening. Just because THIS group is focused on seed
storage, doesn't mean that OTHER groups aren't working on other aspects of preserving the biosphere.

A global effort is required -- I just don't see any logic in pooh-poohing one small part of the effort just because it doesn't do everything. It's still a step in the right direction -- bettter than no step at all.

sw
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FreepFryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 09:28 PM
Response to Reply #41
42. I didn't say it was 'the only thing happening' - and thank God it isn't.
Edited on Mon Nov-19-07 10:01 PM by FreepFryer
Because merely storing seeds will not protect biodiversity in the food supply.

This is just a spectacular story that appeals to 'Doomsday' thinking - and excessive 'Doomsday' thinking inevitably attracts Doom.

Again, my argument is that focusing on 'storing Doomsday seed' is not an acceptable corrolary to 'rejecting Frankenfood' if you want to protect biodiversity in the food supply. All it does is freeze seeds until AFTER the global starvation. Having those seeds to reintroduce after such a horrific episode might ensure human survival... or might not. We've never tried to recreate a living Earth from frozen seeds. And hopefully we never will - because that would only be possible after one of the worst and most preventable tragedies Humanity could commit (unsound genetic meddling in the biosphere/food supply leading to crashes, disease and extinction).

I hope you understand I'm not condemning the practice of seed storage - I'm only recoiling in disgust at the facile acceptance of (and even intrigue at) storing 'Doomsday' seed. When we hear this story, we should be outraged at the perpetrators of this preventable monopolization of the genetic code of the food supply, not accepting that we've come to storing seeds for after the Fall.
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 10:04 PM
Response to Reply #42
43. Outrage without action accomplishes nothing. Until the corporate genetic privateers are defeated,
it's only prudent to take precautions.
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FreepFryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 10:07 PM
Response to Reply #43
44. But alas, fascinated acceptance of Doomsday precautions without outrage accomplishes worse than that
Edited on Mon Nov-19-07 10:56 PM by FreepFryer
Even (especially) if those precautions may not be effective.

Nonetheless I'm very gratified to see that we agree on the need for action to protect our food supply from opportunistic and unsound genetic meddling by privateers.

Honest thanks for that :)
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Canuckistanian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 11:50 PM
Response to Original message
7. Very admirable accomplishment
Very scary though, that they felt a need to do this.

Still, even if it provides a DNA reference for pre-GMO plants, this will be worth it.
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FreepFryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 12:04 AM
Response to Reply #7
10. Exactly - like taking a photo of a Picasso before you 'improve' it with cave paints.
I understand the scientific argument for doing it.

Nevertheless, instead of rejecting the idiocy of reducing biodiversity through GM and pesticide-resistant agribusinesses, instead of uniting to find ways to globally tackle the problems of sustainable agriculture and population growth, we're 'saving' a backup for AFTER the catastrophe.

It's just another reflection of the most critical failing of 'civilization'... the predominance of 'un-enlightened self interest' (compulsive and unsustainable growth).

And that's sick.
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enough Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 08:41 AM
Response to Reply #10
12. I don't understand why it has to be one or the other. Both need to be done.
Bringing about the rejection of the idiocy is likely to take a while, even with the most devoted attention by a lot of people. Indeed, for many strains of plants, we may need the backup sooner than we think.

Or do you have a suggestion about how to make this rejection of the idiocy and "uniting to find ways to globally tackle the problems of sustainable agriculture and population growth" happen quickly, before more biodiversity is lost?

It seems to me we need to follow both paths. For some to focus on saving the backup does not detract from or weaken the global imperative which you clearly identify.
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FreepFryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 09:23 AM
Response to Reply #12
14. It doesn't. But focusing on this, rather than eliminating GM crop contamination, is sick. (n/t)
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CT_Progressive Donating Member (889 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 08:43 AM
Response to Original message
13. Way cool !
:)
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 06:56 PM
Response to Original message
16. If the purpose is to protect seeds from disasters...
why do they think the refridgeration units are going to keep working?
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Hekate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 07:06 PM
Response to Original message
20. I've heard of this project --very glad indeed to see it going forward. nt
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