Posted on

fort collins seed bank

Fort collins seed bank

The facility has been cleared of wrongdoing since then. A U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesman says all of Monsanto’s 1,500 pounds of wheat seeds held at the vault were incinerated a year and a half ago at the corporation’s request. But the investigation raises the question of how secure these seed vaults actually are.

“They’re all bar-coded so we know exactly where everything is,” said Dave Dierig, research leader at the center and one of six people in the building with access to the vaults. Another security measure is the labeling system. Looking at a seed pouch, there’s nothing that tells you what kind of seeds you’re holding, just a bar code. You need access to a secure database to find out what’s inside.
Officially, the Fort Collins facility is called the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation. It’s a nondescript, beige building just off the quad at Colorado State University.

“You’ll want your camera out for this,” Dierig said as he lifted up the lid to a cryogenic freezer capsule. In the cryo chamber, the collection expands to include not just seeds, but animal embryos, semen and microbes. Grace Hood/KUNC hide caption
Dave Dierig, research leader at the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, stands among the ceiling-high shelves that hold the 600,000 seed packets in this cold storage vault. Grace Hood/KUNC hide caption
Upstairs in the facility’s main cold storage vault, ceiling-high shelves hold seemingly endless rows of white pouches. In this room, there are 600,000 seed packets, which puts the total number of seeds in the billions. The temperature is kept at a level similar to a home freezer, at low humidity to arrest seed degradation and keep them viable longer.
“You’ll want your camera out for this,” Dierig said as he lifted up the lid to a cryogenic freezer capsule. In the cryo chamber, the collection expands to include not just seeds, but animal embryos, semen and microbes.
There are no high, barbed-wired fences. No barking Dobermans. No armed guards. Just a friendly welcome video playing in the lobby and a warm-natured receptionist behind a desk, who hands you a clipboard with a sign-in sheet.

Dave Dierig, research leader at the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, stands among the ceiling-high shelves that hold the 600,000 seed packets in this cold storage vault.

At Colorado State University, billions of seeds and other genetic material sit inside a giant storage vault. They’re kept there in case of a loss of plant or animal life on a regional or global scale. But the investigation into GMO wheat in Oregon has raised questions about security at the facility.