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Prince Charles Opens Seed Bank

November 21, 2000

LONDON (AP) _ Prince Charles officially opened an underground seed bank intended to preserve more than 4,500 threatened plant species from across the globe.

``I feel I am opening the Bank of England of the Botanical World, a place where this reserve currency, in this case life itself, is stored,″ the prince said Monday about the Millennium Seed Bank in West Sussex.

During a 45-minute tour, the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II was shown how researchers are trying to dry and freeze a rare orchid.

``Of the 300,000 higher order plants in this country, 100,000 may be facing extinction by the middle of next century. These are shocking statistics,″ he said.

More than 300 million seeds, including all of Britain’s wild plants and many from abroad, will eventually be stored in the glass building where flood-proof vault will safeguard the most endangered species.

Britain is encouraging other countries to build similar conservation banks.

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