800 miles from the Arctic Circle is The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a Norwegian-run facility. Here, it stores 860,000 seed samples from across the globe “[providing] a “global backstop” for the world’s biodiversity in the face of climate change and other dramatic transformation on the planet” (The Washington Post).
The International Center of Agriculture Ministry in Dry Areas (ICARDA) recently closed down the original base in Aleppo, Syria due to the Syrian Civil War and ISIS control, and moved to Beirut, Lebanon.
With the reestablishment complete, ICARDA has asked to open the vault for the first withdrawal ever in order to restart their collection. In doing so, they will be taking out 130 of their 325 samples, 40% percent of their original deposit, most of them with drought resistant traits.
With the creation of the vault only in 2008, is it justified that Syria is able to tap into this international resource?
According to Crop Trust, the organization responsible for the vault, “The Black Box System entails that the depositor is the only one that can withdraw the seeds and open the boxes.” With California’s severe drought in mind, is it viable to have some kind of trading system that would allow countries to exchange crops with needed traits?