The Syrian war has caused the first-ever withdrawal from the doomsday seed vault

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“The Middle East needs crops.”

Fiona MacDonald via ScienceAlert:

The civil war in Syria has prompted the first withdrawal from the Arctic ‘doomsday vault’ – a seed storage unit built on an island between Norway and the North Pole, to safe-guard the world’s food supply in the event of a global catastrophy, such as an outbreak of disease or nuclear war.

Researchers in the Middle East have now asked to withdraw a range of drought-resistant crop seeds, including wheat, barley, and grasses, from the vault. They would usually get these seeds from a facility in Aleppo, Syria, but even though the seeds are still there and safe in cold storage, the scientists are unable to access them as a result of damage to the surrounding buildings caused by the war.

The doomsday vault was built into the side of a frozen mountain on the Svalbard archipelago in 2008, and it’s been specially designed to keep crucial crop seeds safe and ready to replant following pretty much any disaster you can think of.

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