Giant “Doomsday Seed Vault” in the Arctic

Anytime Bill Gates, the Rockefeller Foundation, Monsanto and Syngenta get together on a common project, it’s worth digging a bit deeper behind the rocks on Spitsbergen. When we do we find some fascinating things. No project is more interesting at the moment than a curious project in one of the world’s most remote spots, Svalbard. Bill Gates is investing millions in a seed bank on the Barents Sea near the Arctic Ocean, some 1,100 kilometers from the North Pole. Svalbard is a barren piece of rock claimed by Norway and ceded in 1925 by international treaty. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault — referred to as a doomsday vault — is designed to withstand global warming, earthquakes and even nuclear strikes. One thing Microsoft founder Bill Gates can’t be accused of is sloth. He was already programming at 14, founded Microsoft at age 20 while still a student at Harvard. By 1995 he had been listed by Forbes as the world’s richest man from being the largest shareholder in his Microsoft, a company which his relentless drive built into a de facto monopoly in software systems for personal computers. The latest additions mean that the Svalbard Global Seed Vault — a master backup to the world’s other seed banks — has now secured more than 1,000,000 samples since it opened in a remote Norwegian archipelago in 2008. That represents an estimated three-quarters of the biological diversity of the world’s major food crops, said Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which maintains the vault with Norway’s government and the Nordic Genetic Resources Center. In 2006 when most people in such a situation might think of retiring to a quiet Pacific island, Bill Gates decided to devote his energies to his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest ‘transparent’ private foundation as it says, with a whopping $34.6 billion endowment and a legal necessity to spend $1.5 billion a year on charitable projects around the world to maintain its tax free charitable status. A gift from friend and business associate, mega-investor Warren Buffett in 2006, of some $30 billion worth of shares in Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway put the Gates’ foundation into the league where it spends almost the amount of the entire annual budget of the United Nations’ World Health Organization. So when Bill Gates decides through the Gates Foundation to invest some $30 million of their hard earned money in a project, it is worth looking at. On this God-forsaken island Bill Gates is investing tens of his millions along with the Rockefeller Foundation, Monsanto Corporation, Syngenta Foundation and the Government of Norway, among others, in what is called the ‘doomsday seed bank.’ Officially the project is named the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, part of the Svalbard island group. The seed bank is being built inside a mountain on Spitsbergen Island near the small village of Longyearbyen. It’s almost ready for ‘business’ according to their releases. The bank will have dual […]

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