In the News

Egypt Independent: Syria’s crops sheltered in seed vault

Egypt Independent reports on the deposit of varieties from the International Center for Agriculture in the Dry Areas to the Seed Vault.

STOCKHOLM — Chickpeas, fava beans and other seeds from a facility in Syria are among the 25,000 new samples being deposited this week in an Arctic seed vault built to protect food crops from wars and natural disasters, officials said on Tuesday.

The latest additions mean that the Svalbard Global Seed Vault — a master backup to the world’s other seed banks — has now secured more than 740,000 samples since it opened in a remote Norwegian archipelago in 2008.

That represents an estimated three-quarters of the biological diversity of the world’s major food crops, said Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which maintains the vault with Norway’s government and the Nordic Genetic Resources Center.

With the shipment from the Syria-based International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, almost its entire collection is now backed up in Svalbard, Fowler said.

“I think the events unfolding in Syria obviously underline the importance of having safety duplication outside of a country,” he said, adding the facility had not been damaged in the military crackdown on an anti-government uprising.

He noted that wars destroyed seed banks in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another one in Egypt was looted during last year’s uprising.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault — sometimes referred to as a doomsday vault — is designed to withstand global warming, earthquakes and even nuclear strikes.

Samples shipped this year also included wheat from a range of climates and conditions in Armenia and the Pamir mountains of Tajikistan — the first seeds from the two former Soviet republics.

Wild crops — ancient relatives of domesticated crops — are of particular interest because of their resilience to harsh climatic conditions.

“They are very tough — they have to be to survive,” Fowler said. “They have traits such as drought tolerance or ability to withstand pest and disease, which we think will be very valuable in the future in breeding climate-ready varieties.”

The US seed bank is the biggest national contributor to the Svalbard vault. This year it is sending 12,801 samples, including amaranth, once a nutritious grain for Aztecs and Incas; and subspecies of barley that took root in the US Pacific Northwest after being imported from Poland in 1938.

News

Filter by
  • News
  • Social
Press Release

Crop Trust Appoints New Executive Director

Read More
In the News

From Coffee to Cosmetics

Read More
Spotlight

The Plant Treaty: Q&A with Crop Trust Director of Science, Luigi Guarino

Read More
Spotlight

Marking the first 15 years of forever

Read More
In the News

The Chef Keeping Appalachian Food for Appalachians

Read More
Press Release

Germany Comes Through Again

Read More
In the News

How to Save Coffee From Climate Change

Read More
Blog

2019 World Food Prize celebrates Simon N. Groot, and the diversity of tropical vegetables

Read More
Blog

Poland, Slovakia Now Among Depositors to Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Read More
Blog

Pre-Breeding Work With Grasspea and Finger Millet Gets a Boost

Read More
Blog

How do we estimate the consequences of global inaction on genetic diversity conservation, exchange, and use?

Read More
Blog

Early flowering African rice beats the heat

Read More
In the News

Selection by Stone

Read More