Singapore rice seeds set for 'doomsday vault'

Dr Yin Zhongchao, senior principal investigator at Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, with the Temasek Rice stalks that he and his team developed.
Dr Yin Zhongchao, senior principal investigator at Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, with the Temasek Rice stalks that he and his team developed.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

OSLO • Singapore will soon make its first deposit into the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the world's largest secure seed storage facility.

The seeds of a Singapore-developed rice variety - called Temasek rice - will be deposited next Tuesday into the "doomsday vault", which currently contains the seeds of more than 4,000 plant species, including crops such as beans, wheat and rice.

Temasek rice is naturally bred to be hardy and is able to withstand extreme weather conditions such as floods and drought.

Seeds are stored in the facility to regenerate food supplies in the event of catastrophes such as natural disasters, and as a backup for other seed banks.

The vault is situated on Spitsbergen island in the remote Svalbard Archipelago, located halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, where geological stability and low humidity provide an ideal storage environment.

Yesterday, a seed deposit ceremony was held at the Natural History Museum's Botanical Garden in Oslo and was attended by Norway's Queen Sonja and Mrs Mary Tan, wife of President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who is in Norway on a state visit.

The contribution is part of an agreement between Singapore's Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory (TLL) and the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre.

TLL chief operating officer Peter Chia handed over the seeds of seven unique rice varieties to Norway's Minister of Agriculture and Food, Mr Jon Georg Dale.

Adrian Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore rice seeds set for 'doomsday vault''. Print Edition | Subscribe