Graphic on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway, designed to preserve crop diversity in case of large-scale catastrophe, in advance of its inauguration on February 26.(AFP)
LONGYEARBYEN, Norway (AFP) - Aimed at providing mankind with a Noah's Ark of food in the event of a global catastrophe, an Arctic "doomsday vault" filled with samples of the world's most important seeds will be inaugurated here Tuesday.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Nobel Peace Prize winning environmentalist Wangari Matai will be among the personalities present at the inauguration of the vault, which has been carved into the permafrost of a remote Arctic mountain, just some 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) from the North Pole.
The vault, made up of three spacious cold chambers each measuring 27 x 10 metres (89 x 33 feet), create a long trident-shaped tunnel bored into the sandstone and limestone.
It has the capacity to hold up to 4.5 million batches of seeds from all known varieties of the planet's main food crops, making it possible to re-establish plants if they disappear from their natural environment or are obliterated by major disasters.