Biotech Updates

Syrian War Prompts First Withdrawal of Seeds from Svalbard Global Seed Vault

September 30, 2015

The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) has requested to withdraw the backup seeds that they deposited in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault to restart their collection away from the ongoing conflict in their previous home in Aleppo, Syria. ICARDA is currently based in Beirut, Lebanon, and requesting seeds from their gene bank in Aleppo is getting more and more difficult.

Brian Lainoff, spokesperson of The Crop Trust, the foundation that oversees the Global Seed Vault, explained that ICARDA has worked hard and duplicated 80 percent of what is in their gene bank in Aleppo in Svalbard. The vault, also called the Doomsday Vault, was established in 2008, can hold 4.5 million varieties, and built to survive rising sea levels, power outages and other calamities that could affect the seeds.

According to Lainoff, around 500 seeds of each variety are contained within the vault, and they are key to genetic resistance against potential diseases that could affect the world's major crops.

For more details, read the news article at The Crop Trust website.