"Doomsday" Seed Vault Gets Spicy Contribution

Cary Fowler, the Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Fund, holds seeds inside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault Monday Feb. 25, 2008 in Longyearbyen, Norway. AP Photo/John McConnico

Wenk's Yellow Hots, Pico de Gallos and the unpredictably hot San Juan "Tsiles" chili peppers have safely arrived at a "doomsday" vault in the Arctic.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., says he and other congressmen delivered seeds from the pepper varieties on Sunday to a Norwegian seed bank on the remote Svalbard archipelago.

Operators say the Svalbard Global Seed Vault has the world's most diverse repository of crop seeds and is a safeguard against war or natural disasters that could wipe out food crops.

The seeds came from a Department of Agriculture collection in Colorado. In addition to peppers, seeds for plants including peanuts and melons were sent to the vault.

"60 Minutes: A Visit to the Doomsday Vault

War wiped out seed banks in Iraq and Afghanistan, and another bank in the Philippines was flooded in the wake of a typhoon in 2006. The Svalbard bank is designed to withstand global warming, earthquakes and even nuclear strikes.

Despite the rapid progress, Fowler said the bank still has significant holes in its collection.

"There are a few unique collections that we don't have up there yet - Ethiopia and some of the Indian materials and some of the Chinese materials," he said.

The most recent additions include a mold-resistant bean from Colombia and a collection of nearly every agricultural soybean species developed in the U.S. in the last century.
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