Norway’s ‘Doomsday Seed Vault’ Gets Its First Withdrawal Because of Syrian Civil War

On the sparsely populated Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Circle, there is a giant “doomsday” seed vault, which houses samples of the seeds of crops from gene banks around the world. The theory behind this plan was that some huge cataclysm might wipe out some important types of plants and the frozen vault would serve as a last-chance place for humanity to recover some of those seeds.

It was opened back in 2008, and it’s already had its first withdrawal.

The cause was the Syrian Civil War, and in particular the years of fighting over Syria’s former financial and industrial capital of Aleppo. Among the many things that were located in Aleppo was the International Center for Agricultural Research in The Dry Areas (ICARDA), which had been the primary gene bank for a lot of seeds that can grow in dry climates like Syria.

Luckily, the group had deposited copies of the seeds at the doomsday vault, and having had to relocate from the rubble that used to be Aleppo to Lebanon, they’re withdrawing those seeds, to replace all the ones that got destroyed in Aleppo. The plan is to make copies of those seeds and send those back to the vault, in case Northern Lebanon isn’t as safe as it seems right now.

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