The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, built in 2008, stores more than 850,000 seed samples from nations all over the world. Extending nearly 500 feet into the mountain, it's intended to safeguard the planet's food supply and biodiversity in the event a doomsday catastrophe like nuclear war or crippling disease wipes out varieties of plants. Crop Trust, the company that runs the seed vault, says on its website that the vault is "the final backup":No danger of any war in Svalbard, except maybe those damn Polar Bears:
"The purpose of the Vault is to store duplicates (backups) of seed samples from the world's crop collections. It will secure, for centuries, millions of seeds representing every important crop variety available in the world today. It is the final back up."
But now, less than 10 years after the opening, officials are preparing to withdraw seeds for the first time. What apocalyptic event prompted the removal of some of humanity's food backups?
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was inaugurated in 2008. The "doomsday vault" lies inside an Arctic mountain in the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. For the first time, scientists are taking some seeds out.
"We did not expect a retrieval this early," Crop Trust spokesman Brian Lainoff told NPR. "But [we] knew in 2008 that Syria was in for an interesting couple of years. This is why we urged them to deposit so early on."
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Reuters reports that the seeds requested by researchers include "samples of wheat, barley and grasses suited to dry regions" to replace "seeds in a gene bank near the Syrian city of Aleppo that has been damaged by the war."
"Grethe Evjen, an expert at the Norwegian Agriculture Ministry, said the seeds had been requested by the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA). ICARDA moved its headquarters to Beirut from Aleppo in 2012 because of the war.
"ICARDA wants almost 130 boxes out of 325 it had deposited in the vault, containing a total of 116,000 samples, she told Reuters. They will be sent once paperwork is completed, she said."
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Syrian War Opens the Doomsday Vault
Syrian Civil War Prompts First Withdrawal From Doomsday Seed Vault In The Arctic