Global Seed Vault Authorizes First-Ever Seed Withdrawal
Arctic repository is making the move to assist researchers sidelined by Syria’s Civil War.
By Michael d'Estries / mnn.com
Oct 23, 2015

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault authorized the first-ever withdrawal from its facility to assist researchers in Syria. (Photo: The Crop Trust)

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, nicknamed "the doomsday vault" by the media, has for the first time distributed vital samples to assist researchers caught up in Syria's on-going Civil War.

Completed in 2008, the vault is home to more than 860,000 varieties of seeds from around the world. The overarching goal of the facility is to safeguard these vital specimens in the event of some catastrophic global event. As has recently been shown with the situation in Syria, however, the vault also has an ongoing role to assist with regional conflicts as well.

 

 

When the first hints of civil war began in early 2011, the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), located in Aleppo, Syria, began forming a plan to transfer its collection of seeds to Svalbard. The nonprofit's research is vitally important for agriculture-based populations in dry regions around the world, with more than 25,000 seeds distributed annually to assist farmers.

While ICARDA's own cold storage facilities were operational, the land surrounding the genebank –– vital to replenish seed stocks –– was increasingly threatened by the conflict. To prevent further loss of both research and seed stocks, the group began systematically shipping its varieties around the world. Of the 146,352 seeds in ICARDA's collection, more than 116,000 were shipped to Svalbard in the Arctic including wheat, barley, lentil, Kabuli chickpea, faba bean, peas, grass pea and forage crops.

With Syria still embroiled in conflict, ICARDA has relocated its headquarters temporarily to Beirut, Lebanon and Morocco. This has triggered a partial withdrawal from the Global Seed Vault to once again allow the group to fulfill its research and distribution missions.

"In one sense, it would be preferable if we never had to retrieve seeds from the Seed Vault, as a withdrawal signifies that there is a significant problem elsewhere in the world," Marie Haga, executive director of the Crop Trust, said in a statement."However, we can now see that the Vault as the ultimate failsafe works the way it was intended to do."

ICARDA plans to take this first withdrawal of 38,000 seed samples and make duplicates for future safekeeping at Svalbard.

 

0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad4,280 views today ·
90 Inspiring, Visionary Films That Will Change How You See the World in Profound Ways
Tim Hjersted3,870 views today ·
Joanna Macy on How to Prepare Internally for WHATEVER Comes Next
Joanna Macy3,457 views today ·
87 Deeply Subversive Documentaries That Challenge the Status Quo
Films For Action3,317 views today ·
The Great Forgetting: You Probably Haven't Heard about It But It Completely Affects Your Life
Deep Ecology Hub1,877 views today ·
America’s Trump, Not Trump’s America
Frank Scott1,718 views today ·
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga1,132 views today ·
I Promise, It's Not Lame to Ask a Woman for Permission
Dave Booda1,046 views today ·
How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the ‘1 Percent’
George Lakey808 views today ·
Load More
What's Next
The Right to Save Seed
5 min
Seeds of Sovereignty (2013)
36 min
The GMO Film Project
6 min
Like us on Facebook?
Global Seed Vault Authorizes First-Ever Seed Withdrawal