Tags: arctic | doomsday | vault | withdrawal | seeds | syria

Arctic 'Doomsday' Vault's First Withdrawal Is Completed

Image: Arctic 'Doomsday' Vault's First Withdrawal Is Completed
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By    |   Tuesday, 20 Oct 2015 01:08 PM

The Arctic "Doomsday Vault" was opened for the first time in its eight-year history last month and now the withdrawal and shipping of 38,000 seed samples to Morocco and Lebanon has been completed.

Since it was carved into the base of a mountain in Norway's Arctic Circle in 2008, the Svalbard Global Vault has come to house more than 860,000 seed samples from all over the world. While the vault was meant to safeguard food supplies for changes in global population and climate, the first withdrawal was necessary to counteract the effects of war, PBS Newshour reported.

The 38,000 seeds taken out of the vault and delivered Monday to Lebanon and Morocco will be used to continue the research started in war-torn Syria, the original site of the seed samples. A statement from the vault said the seeds could help lead to the development of new crop varieties "crucial to meeting world food demands with climate change."

"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."

Researchers in Syria have been unable to continue their work at the gene bank in Aleppo where they were developing new strains of drought- and heat-resistant wheat, according to CNN. The work has been on hold for several years because of fighting within the country.

The gene bank in Aleppo was run by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas and included some 135 varieties of wheat, fava bean, lentil, and chickpea crops.

"These are land races that were inherited from our grand-grandparents, most of them are unfortunately extinct now," ICARDA director general Mahmoud El-Solh told CNN. "And this is where the cradle of agriculture [was] 10,000 years ago. In this part of the world, many of the important crops were domesticated from the wild to cultivation."

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The Arctic "Doomsday Vault" was opened for the first time in its eight-year history last month and now the withdrawal and shipping of 38,000 seed samples to Morocco and Lebanon has been completed.
arctic, doomsday, vault, withdrawal, seeds, syria
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2015-08-20
Tuesday, 20 Oct 2015 01:08 PM
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