The Doomsday Vault may sound like the next James Bond movie, but it’s an actual structure in Norway about 800 miles from The North Pole. The Svalbard Global Seed vault is located on a remote Norwegian island and contains 865,000 varieties seed samples, making it the largest collection of seeds in existence. The genetically copied seed samples come from almost every nation in the world.
The vault itself, built in 2008, is practically indestructible and is built to withstand "rising sea levels, power outages and other calamities,” according to its website. Prompted by four years of destructive Civil War, Syrian officials have opened the vault for the first time in its existence and withdrew seed samples, according to the Discovery Channel.
The request to take a small amount of seeds from this secure vault that could one day save the future of agriculture, comes from the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas, a gene bank, which needed some samples back to supplement its own seed supply. The Civil War has made genetic agricultural research extremely difficult and hazardous, which led to the need to open the Doomsday Vault in the first place.
For safekeeping, the withdrawn seeds will not go remain in Syria but will remain at an undisclosed location to protect the contents of the vault.
“[The vault] is really is kind of the only example of true international cooperation,” spokesman Brian Lainoff of the Crop Trust that runs the Global Seed Vault, told Crop Trust, a digital agricultural news website. “There are seeds sitting on the same shelf from North Korea and South Korea, and they get along just fine up there.”