Inside the collection site preserving the world's biodiversity, hundreds of thousands of microbes, plant and animal cells at a time.
The USDA ARS National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation(NLGRP) in Fort Collins, Colorado was established through the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (better known as the farm bill), the facility was created to secure and sustain our domestic food supply. The Act mandated that the germplasm would be distributed for free (“unless otherwise prohibited by law”) to any country that requested it. It was—and is—the backup for all ARS collections in the country.
The goals of the NLGRP—and the efforts behind them—are extraordinary, but not immediately obvious from its outward appearance. Unlike Svalbard, which is 328 feet deep inside a mountain and surrounded by snow and polar bears, NLGRP is housed in a three-story beige building ringed by other beige buildings on the Colorado State University campus about 60 miles north of Denver. (The location’s low relative humidity makes it ideal for storing seeds.)