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Norway to Build Doomsday Seed Bank

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the there-will-be-cabbage-after-the-crash dept.

Science 273

Kagu writes "According to the BBC, Norway is planning to build a Seed Bank in the Artic Permafrost to protect all known variations of seeds in case of worldwide disaster." From the article: "Mr Hawtin said there were currently about 1,400 seed banks around the world, but a large number of these were located in countries that were either politically unstable or that faced threats from the natural environment."

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273 comments

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Short Story (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468225)

This article reminds me of a short story [phpsolvent.com] I once read by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. I think it's from his book Palm Sunday.

Anyways, the world is dying because the resources were squandered by humans. As a last resort, we package our genetic material into the nose cone of a rocket and fire it blindly into space (colder than the artic tundra).

Would it be such a bad idea to launch seeds into outer space to orbit the world just in case? I mean, they have to be worth something to us, right?

From the article:
Permafrost will keep the vault below freezing point and the seeds will further be protected by metre-thick walls of reinforced concrete, two airlocks and high security blast-proof doors.
I hope there's a foot of lead included in that shielding somewhere. To me that would seem the most vital shielding they could provide.

Re:Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Short Story (4, Insightful)

s20451 (410424) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468288)

The nice thing about having them on the ground is that you can get at them easily, even if civilization collapses. Which is pretty likely if all the crops die and there's no more food.

Re:Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Short Story (2, Insightful)

temojen (678985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468396)

Or if you just need a few varieties because some local variety of a plant went extict due to local conditions, like the spill into the Harbin river. (not saying I know of a plant that went extict due to this... just some might have).

Its a bit silly (2, Insightful)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468546)

I dunno, this seems a bit silly all round. I mean if there is a catastrophe sufficient to wipe out all seed and food crops in the world, or at least within easy reach, it's not very likely that there will be a whole lot of anything or anybody else to replant and eat said food crops. On top of that, its fairly safe to assume the disaster would have pretty much erased whole ecosystems; are the food crops sufficient to maintain a viable ecosystem by themselves? Kind of a waste of money, really.

Re:Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Short Story (1)

jimmcq (88033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468641)

If civilization collapses how are we going to get to/from the arctic?

Re:Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Short Story (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468298)

I dunno, this sounds more like a Homer Price book I read when I was a kid, where he pulls out seed from a safe deposit box and ends up growing giant, mutant ragweed plants.

Re:Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Short Story (1)

ugmoe (776194) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468590)

Thanks! I had forgotten who wrote the giant ragweed book - I'll go to the library today and check it out. Ugmoe

Re:Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Short Story (3, Insightful)

7macaw (933316) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468324)

Yeah, seeds in the orbit will really help if we regress to the stage we don't even have any more seeds to plant!

Re:Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Short Story (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468367)

AFAIK seeds don't last forever, which is why seed banks periodically replant and harvest seeds. I remember this coming up with some marijuana seeds (no joke) at some conservatory in Russia or something. Might be a good thing to search for on smokedot, if it wasn't using slashcode with its attendant super-shit search tool.

Re:Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Short Story (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468388)

Would it be such a bad idea to launch seeds into outer space to orbit the world just in case?

      Cosmic radiation can play havoc with DNA over time. You'd have to shield that thing pretty good (read a lot of increased mass). Not to mention this stuff must weigh a heck of a lot if you include a sample of ALL life forms plus the containers (petri dishes, test tubes, whatever). Added to the fact that the most likely outcome that this "ark" is likely to be vaporized by the first asteroid/moon/planet it happens to collide with makes it an unlikely "safe" place.

      The smartest thing we can hope to do probably is map out the DNA for every endangered species, in the hope that one day we will be advanced enough to synthesize this DNA again "de novo" in a lab and bring the species "back" if we ever need it.

Re:Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Short Story (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468395)

This article reminds me of a short story I once read by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. I think it's from his book Palm Sunday.

Yes, I read that one in (I think) the second Dangerous Visions collection. I wonder what he was driving at with the obvious dig at Arthur Clarke?

I hope there's a foot of lead included in that shielding somewhere. To me that would seem the most vital shielding they could provide.

I think they should build huge space ships with clusters of geodesic domes attached to them with artificial gravity pointing inwards and send it into orbit around Saturn. One member of the crew should be a homicidal environmentalist maniac with a talent for programming with a soldering iron. There should also be a crew of robots who are actually more intelligent and better trained than the human crew, which, now that I mention it, invalidates most of the above ideas, but any way.....

Re:Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Short Story (1)

thegnu (557446) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468573)

There should also be a crew of robots who are actually more intelligent and better trained than the human crew, which, now that I mention it, invalidates most of the above ideas, but any way.....

Yeah, but robots don't have passion...

Re:Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Short Story (1)

jo7hs2 (884069) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468401)

Wow. That story was terrible. I think I have seen stories penned by 8-year-olds that were of significantly higher quality.

Re:Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Short Story (5, Funny)

ugmoe (776194) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468436)

Permafrost will keep the vault below freezing point and the seeds will further be protected by metre-thick walls of reinforced concrete, two airlocks and high security blast- proof doors.

Sounds like a challenge!

I'm forming a high skills mercenary team to go in and get those seeds.

I'll need an Olympic level biathlete , a demolitions expert, a Harrier pilot, a (preferably beautiful) horticulturist, an eskimo, a fence, and possibly an astronaut and/or a Mason.

Equal Opportunity Employer

Re:Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Short Story (1)

sterno (16320) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468506)

Permafrost will keep the vault below freezing point

Great... say, I wonder if they've heard of global warming? :)
I mean if this is a long term apres apocalypse type plan, maybe, just maybe, they might want to consider that issue. But credit to them, for having some long range vision.

Re:Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Short Story (3, Funny)

cralewyth (934970) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468511)

Metre-thick walls of reinforced concrete, airlocks and high security blast-proof doors? What, are they trying to stop the seeds escaping? They only put high-security prisoners behind that kind of protection...

Re:Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Short Story (2, Funny)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468481)

Hidden vault... hopefully Geraldo will be around to find and open it for us ;-)... You may need to be an old fart to get this.

Re:Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Short Story (4, Insightful)

jesterzog (189797) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468563)

Anyways, the world is dying because the resources were squandered by humans.

I can't claim to be an expert on this, but I was actually thinking that such a seed bank could be quite relevant in a potential disaster that's probably less obvious than simply squandering resources. In particular, a large amount of food production, especially in the developed world (I don't know about other places), is essentially dictated by a small number of massive corporations which are very specific about what crops they'll grow.

A good example is with potatoes -- there are about 200 different varieties of potato, but my understanding is that only four or five of them are seriously grown on a large scale in the US. Some of the former varieties are probably extinct by now, or close to it, simply because their original habitats have been wiped out and nobody grows them. Everyone's growing the same thing, everyone's eating the same thing, and there's very little variety.

Someone can correct me on this if they know otherwise. My point is, though, that the lack of variety that's generally encouraged when a small number of corporations control it, makes it much more lokely that a disease or other biological threat could just wipe the whole lot out.

Keeping a seed bank would be one way to make sure that the older varieties remain available if it ever becomes very important to retrieve them in the future. Reading the article, it seems that this is probably the sort of thing they're thinking about.

They can have some of my seed (-1, Offtopic)

drsquare (530038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468226)

As long as some Norweigen chick sucks me off and spits the load into a test tube.

Re:They can have some of my seed (0)

nycguy (892403) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468275)

Where are moderator points when you need them?

Re:They can have some of my seed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468293)

I'm on it!

Re:They can have some of my seed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468343)

That's what she said.

Re:They can have some of my seed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468346)

Score: +1, Nasty

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468227)

First cooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooold post. Really cooooooooooold in Norway.

I already sent my donation in the mail! (4, Funny)

Quaoar (614366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468229)

...Oh wait, that kind of seed. I better lay low for a while...

Re:I already sent my donation in the mail! (1)

davidc (91400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468441)

EWWWWW!!! I hope the package doesn't get squashed in the mail...

old news... it was alredy on digg.com (-1)

Compu486 (891190) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468232)

old news... it was alredy on digg.com

Re:old news... it was alredy on digg.com (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468255)

... it was alredy on digg.com

That's old news.

KFG

Re:old news... it was alredy on digg.com (0, Offtopic)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468311)

I was gonna bitch about it being a dupe, til I realized it wasnt a dupe, just already posted on Digg, as you point out.

I didn't find it all that interesting, but somehow got over 1100 digs. The US has a "seed bank" as well, as do many other countries.

Re:old news... it was alredy on digg.com (1)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468357)

yes but this one is not in a politicaly unstable country.

*ducks*

anyone else? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468242)

see this and think sperm bank?

Apparently half of slash dot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468292)

This is not lame.

Re:anyone else? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468571)

Actually I saw the word "doomsday" and thought "Mr President, we cannot allow a seed bank gap!"

Kegbot (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468718)

I have a sperm bank...in my PANTS.

politically unstable? (2, Insightful)

AxemRed (755470) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468243)

Why would a politically unstable country have a seed bank? I can't imagine caring much about how oak trees fare if my government was on the brink of collapse...

//I'm also kind of curious what countries they consider to be "politically unstable."

Re:politically unstable? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468276)

I would say that Taiwan is an example of a place that is technological enough and like-minded enough to have a sort of seed bank, and yet it would still be considered politically unstable because of China's threats to invade. I doubt the people in Taiwan think their government is on the brink of collapse however.

unstable != brink of collapse

Re:politically unstable? (0, Flamebait)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468419)

well the us has its fair share of religious people, which could destabilize the country if given enough power. They could argue against a seed bank and claim that only NOAH could create such a bank. anything else would be blasphemy!

or something...

Re:politically unstable? (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468612)

"They could argue against a seed bank and claim that only NOAH could create such a bank. anything else would be blasphemy!"

What about NOAA?

Tim

Re:politically unstable? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468671)

Just curious if you forgot it was religious people that made this country stable in the first place?

Re:politically unstable? (4, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468679)

Congratulations!

I do believe that is the most off-topic attempt I've ever seen to redirect an otherwise useful discussion into a religious flamefest.

Re:politically unstable? (1)

guspasho (941623) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468469)

Why would a politically unstable country have a seed bank?

For the same reasons that politically stable ones want them, presumably. The point isn't that politically stable countries are interested in them because of their instability, the point is that their instability threatens their banks. Ergo, Norway is concerned about future access and wants to build one of their own.

Oh, say can you see? (0, Flamebait)

thegnu (557446) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468626)

I'm also kind of curious what countries they consider to be "politically unstable."

The USA?

great timing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468248)

Hmm, what a coincidence, I was just preparing a sample of my seed, where do I send that again?

Hopefully... (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468272)


... they have some good pot seeds frozen. Why should post-apocalyptic pizza stores go bankrupt?

I would add... (1)

IAAP (937607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468411)

all the grains necessary for making vodka, whiskey, and most importantly, BEER!

Re:I would add... (0, Offtopic)

shaitand (626655) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468455)

I wonder if anyone who even consider consuming poisons like alcohol if pot were cheap and legal (if legal, it would cheaper than most crops to produce per acre).

Re:I would add... (2, Informative)

grub (11606) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468552)

Here in Canada pot is pretty nearly legal. Small amounts get you a wee fine, no jail time or anything silly like in "free" countries. :)

crikey, a vicar (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468286)

In Soviet Russia, seed bank makes you!!!!

Oooh, matron.

Actually (4, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468434)

Actually, In Soviet Russia, they build a Doomsday Device

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doomsday_device [wikipedia.org]
The Soviet Union built the world's only doomsday device, known originally as the "dead hand." The Russian dead hand is designed to launch the bulk of the country's nuclear forces in the event of a decapitating strike, utilizing specially designed rockets carrying radio equipment. The device may still exist under the name Perimetr.

[Obligatory Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb quote]

The stocks are going to have to be maintained (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468297)

A lot of seeds die if they are ever frozen, and no seed has an infinite shelf life. After a geologicially short time all the DNA of the seeds will break down. So unfortunatly this isn't going to do any good if we humans kill our planet.

Re:The stocks are going to have to be maintained (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468467)

I seem to remember a 5000 year old date palm seed being sprouted not long ago.

The big question is, how would the tattered remnants fo man (or any other intelligent being that happens along) know where to find the seeds even if they were viable.

Re:The stocks are going to have to be maintained (1)

trophy (810514) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468567)

How about a poster with some sort of manual on the door? "The 1-2-3 of seeds."

Why not launch a rocket? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468667)

If you get an ion drive going, it can reach relativistic speeds in comparatively little time. Launch it on a parabolic orbit, set to intersect earth every 500 years or so. Launch another one every 50 years.

As speed->infinity, time->0, and so the seed'sll be preserved a lot longer that way.

Umm... you mean 'temp-frost'? (5, Informative)

hooeezit (665120) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468306)

As far as I know, the arctic permafrost is already melting [bbc.co.uk] - which implies that the seeds will not remain frozen for very long.
And I'd suppose there would be flooding issues involved where there is a lot of melting water. So, they will probably succeed in creating an underwater chamber of moldy grains then?

Re:Umm... you mean 'temp-frost'? (1)

massivefoot (922746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468647)

You present an excellent point. Does temperature matter that much? How about nothern Scotland? Still quite cold, but no melting risk.

In fact, are they really interested in preserving the seeds, or just the DNA? The DNA can be broken down into bits and stored far more reliably, would this not be a sensible compliment?

Location, Location, Location (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468310)

Is the arctic permafrost really the best place? Doomsday might be caused by the polar ice caps melting, in which case the seeds will float away.

Re:Location, Location, Location (3, Informative)

Ch_Omega (532549) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468360)

Permafrost =/= ice caps/glacier.[br][br] Permafrost is solid soil that stays frozen because of the climate. Even if the polar ice caps did melt, most permafrost exists at high altitude, and will stay frozen and unaffected if the polar ice caps melt.

Re:Location, Location, Location (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468608)

Thanks for the correction. Most Permafrost is at high altitude, but that far north I thought they might be working at a lower altitude.

Further details on the Doomsday Vault (5, Informative)

Xuri (755951) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468320)

More elaborate article on this can be found at NewScientist.com [newscientist.com] . Some sketches (2) over the vault available on the online Norwegian newspaper TV2 Nettavisen [tv2.no] .

Also, I'm a bit disappointed that BBC missed out on the whole "security-details provided by roaming polar bears"-thing.

Why did I read this as.... ? (0, Redundant)

voxel (70407) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468339)

Doomsday Sperm Bank...

I think its a good idea too.

Donaters: Ready... Set... Go!

Also in the works is: (4, Funny)

slashbob22 (918040) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468359)

1) Top Soil Storage -- Enough to dilute the nuclear fallout and to bury the bodies of the passed as well as provide sufficient nutrients for plant growth.
2) Water Supply -- Unless whatever is causing the damage will filter water.
3) Source of Light -- That volcanic ash could certainly block out needed sunlight.
4) Parking Garage -- Fer yer John Deer and other machinery (unless the human toll was minimal - labour = food)
5) Dummies Guide to Farming -- Tony Blair, George W, and all our favourite characters will get a spot in a safe location. To that I say, save the farmers.
6) Apiary -- Most plants require Pollination.
The above is by no means a complete list.

Thank goodness we have the seeds. Now I don't mean to be extremely critical since in many cases it could be sufficient. However it would be prudent to consider other requirements for growth other then just the seeds.

Re:Also in the works is: (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468610)

I think if the world is as screwed as this is planned for most of the things above won't matter. Ground + water + lamp = FOOD. Most people know how to take care of a plant if they try, looking after grass (hell even weeds if you can eat them), wouldn't be SO difficult and would give you some basic input for your body.

i saw that movie already, it's a bad idea (3, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468364)

the thing [imdb.com]

sure putting all that genetic material in the frozen wastelands sounds like a good idea, but then you get mutant sled dogs wandering away from the destroyed frozen norwegian science outposts, and pretty soon kurt russell has to fire up the flamethrower and do some genetic mutant ass kicking

sorry, this seed bank idea is bad news

simple solution... (1)

7macaw (933316) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468458)

...just put a sign: "Caution: Genetic Material Repository. No dogs allowed".

That should do it.

Marijuana? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468374)

Wonder if: A) they're going to store Pot seeds and if so, B) just one type, or a sample of the various types (well over 1k honestly)....

cool idea, even if they won't do those sort of naughty seeds. (bad seeds, go to bed!)

yeah but if (1)

Combas (776699) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468378)

..doomsday suddenly arrives, do we really want seeds to be the only thing that survives?

How about a clone bank so that if we hit doomsday clone production starts and asures the survival of humanity?

And if things get really bad we can always eat our clones.

Babys: the other OTHER white meat. --fatbastard

Re:yeah but if (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468399)

who the fuck cares about humanity? maybe it's time humans all died out and something better took over. fuck humanity... it's full of dumb shits like the fags that infest slashdot.

Re:yeah but if (2, Insightful)

nfgaida (68606) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468727)

If humanity manages to wipe itself out, are you sure we are worth trying to bring back?

Icecaps melt? (1)

antiaktiv (848995) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468383)

Isn't one of the reason one might want such a seed bank that the icecaps could melt?
And yet that's where they're putting them.
Hmmm.

Some of my heroes (4, Insightful)

Quirk (36086) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468405)

From the site: The N.I. Vavilov All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Plant Industry [grdc.com.au] based in St Petersburg Russia, is the world's first seed bank and one of the world's largest collections of plant genetic material.

Named after Nikolai I Vavilov, a Russian biologist, botanist and geneticist, the Institute's seed collections were largely built by Vavilov who scoured five continents in the 1920s and 1930s for wild and cultivated corn, potato tubers, grains, beans, fodder, fruits and vegetable seeds.

Hitler's army blockaded Leningrad (now St Petersburg). Under German fire, scientists gathered unripened potato tubers from the Institute's experimental fields outside Leningrad. They burned everything they could find to keep the collection from freezing in the building.

While guarding the collection, some scientists starved to death rather than eat the packets of rice, corn and other seeds in their desks.

Re:Some of my heroes (2, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468645)

"While guarding the collection, some scientists starved to death rather than eat the packets of rice, corn and other seeds in their desks."

If those were from strains that were no longer existent or hard to get, then you could call them heroes. If they were widly available, they were fools.

OTOH, I would of ate them in any case.

Unsung Heroes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468665)

While guarding the collection, some scientists starved to death rather than eat the packets of rice, corn and other seeds in their desks.


It is notable that many Chinese died of starvation during the revolution when they were in charge of allocating food to the masses. One can have nothing but total admiration for this, admittedly, suicidal act in the face of adversity. Perhaps, this consideration might moderate some of the more rude and ignorant comments we see around here.

Do they save instructions? (1)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468429)

Do they save instructions on how to make the plant grow? When I read the article, I didn't see anything about that.

Some seeds need to go through certain animals in order to be able to germinate. The seed bank might not be so valuable if they screw this up.

When will the plant conservationists learn? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468433)

"To achieve their goals, plant conservationists should learn from the physicists' political lobbying skills."

Read: "If plant conservationists produced as many biological and chemical weapons as physicists have produced bombs, then perhaps there would be some scraps in the treasury left over for them."

Mmmm, global warming & permafrost (2, Interesting)

theolein (316044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468446)

I wonder if they really thought this thing through or just got carried away in their zeal. The permafrost is melting worldwide. In 50 years there will not be much left in the arctic.

Take that, Dolphins! (5, Funny)

OverflowingBitBucket (464177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468509)

I prefer to think of it as security of the species. Come on, hear me out...

Picture this.... several hundred thousand years from now...

A series of archaeologists from the now dominant evolved-from-Dolphins species that runs the planet finds a mysterious encased tomb. Cracking their way through the concrete covering, they find a collection of primitive seeds. Despite the training provided by their utopian society, enroute to the museum a couple of seeds manage to blow away and germinate in the soil nearby. Slowly but surely, plants from a long-forgotten era slowly grow and displace the native flora. Despite their best efforts, the native flora is rapidly killed off, being entirely unsuited to compete against these primitive plants. The rapid change in the flora leads to a collapse of the entire food chain, and subsequent extinction of the dolphin race.

And then us monkeys get another crack at it! Take that Dolphin overlords!

A much more interesting article... (3, Interesting)

nincehelser (935936) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468562)

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg189253 43.700 [newscientist.com]

I think it's really more about preserving genetic diversity rather than being a hedge against world-wide disaster.

Better to store the information virtually, maybe? (2, Interesting)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468666)

I think you're right. Arguably it's a good idea, whether or not the organisms themselves are ever grown, because the DNA may have interesting genes in it that future biotechnologists might want to study and use, when we get to the point where we're able to not only "read" a genome easily but with full comprehension.

It's for this reason that the actual viability of the seeds isn't maybe that much of an issue. So long as the DNA remains intact and can be sequenced, it will be useful.

Although...I wonder if they might not be better off spending the money on sequencing the genomes now. That data can then be stored in many different places, and probably far more compactly and easily than the seeds. Furthermore, I think the mol bio field generally agrees that in the not too distant future it should be relatively straightforward to understand gene function from sequence, and that means only the sequence is really needed anyway. We won't need the actual DNA itself, because we can always reconstruct it, or the part of it we need.

Basically I'm saying maybe preserve all these plant species virtually, in cyberspace, instead of actually, in the frozen tundra. Cheaper. As well as more cyberpunk.

Nice link to the article. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14468569)

WTF is an artic?

Artic? (0, Flamebait)

JourneyExpertApe (906162) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468620)

Kagu writes "According to the BBC, Norway is planning to build a Seed Bank in the Artic Permafrost to protect all known variations of seeds in case of worldwide disaster."


JourneyExpertApe writes "There are fetuses that can spell better that Kagu. And Zonk couldn't spot a spelling error if it had a wavy red line under it. Also, "seed bank" and "permafrost" aren't proper nouns, so they shouldn't be capitalized."

Another idea for preserving life on Earth . . . (4, Interesting)

Amiasian (157604) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468652)

Marshall T. Savage, a while ago, proposed a rather interesting idea [amazon.com] for preserving life that I think would work as a great parallel project to this:

In this boldly optimistic manifesto, Savage proclaims a master plan for the human race: to spread life throughout the galaxy. To many, space exploration seems irrelevant to Earth's real problems; but humanity may in fact have no other way to secure its long-term survival. To remain confined to Earth, Savage claims, is to court extinction, possibly within a few decades. Savage (an engineer who has established the Millennial Foundation to promote space exploration) outlines his program for transferring a significant portion of humanity off-planet. The crucial first step is to colonize the ocean surface with floating cities, quadrupling the living space available to the growing population of Earth. This allows us to reverse the degradation of the environment by shifting to the thermal energy of the deep ocean as our primary power source. At the same time, spirulina algae (already on sale in health food stores) becomes a major new food crop. The hardware for these oceanic colonies is already within practical reach: Savage provides a detailed inventory of how his floating cities would work and support themselves, with copious citations of the scientific literature. Once this move is well underway, it frees up energy and resources for the next steps. Improved space vehicles make possible orbiting space colonies, then settlements on the moon. A larger step is terraforming Mars--creating an atmosphere and a water supply for our lifeless neighbor to form a human habitat. On an even longer time scale, the race can expand into the rest of the solar system: asteroids and the moons of other planets. Ultimately, artificial habitats may completely surround the sun. With the resources of an entire solar system at our command, according to Savage, humanity can at last send out emissaries to other stars. The stuff of science fiction? Of course--but rigorously built from existing science, carefully documented, and convincingly argued. Highly recommended.

Re:thinking (2, Insightful)

Bananas (156733) | more than 8 years ago | (#14468675)

50 comments and not a single one zeros in on the concept of a monoculture grain system being promoted by Monsanto (and friends) along with the potential effect it could have on grain stocks when (not if!) there comes to pass a blight or other form of crop failure.

A simple challenge to you: if you're simply laughing at the prior sentence, then consider that you will die should it happen. If you're not laughing and you're seriously considering the effects, you too would consider a little biodiversity...

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