Doomsday Seed Vault to Distribute Seeds for First Time…Because of Disruption Caused by War in Syria

Thursday, September 24, 2015
Entrance to the subterranean Svalbard Global Seed Vault (photo: John McConnico, AP)

The “doomsday” seed vault, buried on a frozen island in the Arctic, will be processing its first withdrawal because of the war in Syria.


The Norwegian operators of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, established in 2008, were asked for some seeds back by officials with the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), which was based in the Syrian city of Aleppo until the war broke out.


Now operating in Beirut, ICARDA had submitted 325 boxes of seeds to the vault. It informed Svalbard that 130 boxes containing 116,000 samples are needed. The seeds include samples of wheat, barley and grasses suited to dry regions. Researchers in the Middle East requested the seeds after the gene bank near Aleppo was damaged in the war.


“Protecting the world’s biodiversity in this manner is precisely the purpose of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault,” Brian Lainoff, a spokesman for the Crop Trust, which runs the vault, said according to Reuters.


The seed vault was established to protect crop seeds, such as beans, rice and wheat, against cataclysms such as nuclear war or disease. It has more than 860,000 samples collected from most nations of the world.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Syrian War Spurs First Withdrawal from Doomsday Arctic Seed Vault (by Alister Doyle, Reuters)

Arctic ‘Doomsday’ Vault To Open Because of Syrian Civil War (by Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post)

Syrian War Causes the Global Doomsday Seed Vault’s First Withdrawal (by Nick Robins-Early, Huffington Post)

Doomsday Seed Vault Adds Tree Seeds for First Time (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)


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