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Stowing survival: Syrian seeds returned to Norway's 'Doomsday Vault' Open in fullscreen

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Stowing survival: Syrian seeds returned to Norway's 'Doomsday Vault'

The Svaldbard vault is situated on an island 800 miles from the North Pole [AFP]

Date of publication: 25 February, 2017

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Food diversity conservationists hail the return of Syrian seeds to a global safety vault as a success for the food security of future generations in the war-torn country.
Around 50,000 seeds from Syria were shipped to a seed vault on a remote Norweigan island in the Arctic Circle island on Friday, as part of an effort to safeguard global food diversity for the future.

Included in the shipment were seeds withdrawn from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault two years ago, when Syria took the seeds back in order to sustain its Middle East agricultural breeding programme amid its ongoing civil war.

Conservationists have hailed the move as a positive step for preserving future food diversity.

"[It] shows that despite political and economic differences in other areas, collective efforts to conserve crop diversity and produce a global food supply for tomorrow continue to be strong," said Marie Haga, executive director of the Crop Trust, which was involved in the shipment.

Haga added that deposits made by Benin, India, Pakistan, Lebanon, Morocco, the US, the Netherlands, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus and the UK collectively account for a quarter of the earth's population - demonstrating a broad consensus on the need for a seed vault.

"Crop diversity is a fundamental foundation for the end of hunger," Haga said.

At present, the Svalbard vault has the capacity to store 2.5 billion seeds. This equates to as many as 4.5 million varieties of crop, with a deposit of 500 seeds of each.

Syria's own domestic seed vault, the International Center for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas [ICARDA], was moved from Aleppo to Beirut due to the escalation of violence in the country's north.

The laetst shipment from Syria brought the bank's seed tally up to 930,821. 

Svalbard's seed vault was founded in 2008 with the aim of preserving global seed diversity in the face of devestating natural disasters and conflict.

The vault preserve its deposits for up to 100 years and is built to withstand damage from bombs and natural disasters.

The seeds stored in Svalbard are also kept in 1,700 other banks around the world, however the Global Seed Vault only releases deposits in the event of emergencies.

Syria's own domestic seed vault, the International Center for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas [ICARDA], was moved from Aleppo to Beirut due to the escalation of violence in the country's north.

The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 led by Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.

According to independent monitors, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in the war, mostly by the regime and its powerful allies, and millions have been displaced both inside and outside of Syria.

The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.

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