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The Syrian War Has Caused The First Ever Withdrawal From The Doomsday Seed Vault

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 catastrophe, such as an outbreak of disease or nuclear war.

It has sparked some serious debate about what the true intentions of major investors into the seed vault are trying to accomplish. Is this another attempt to bring the Syrian people under the control of western corporations by supplying them with single crop seeds?

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, following massive investments from Bill Gates and Monsanto. It has been specifically designed to keep crucial crop seeds safe and ready to replant following any type of doomsday scenario.

Even without power, the vault would be able to remain locked and frozen for 200 years. But now the Syrian civil war will trigger the first withdrawal of seeds from the facility. Sparking huge questions over the legitimacy of the Syrian war and what exactly is trying to be achieved. Especially considering many seeds that would be supplied will be seeds that are genetically modified to only grow once, allowing the manufacturers, Monsanto, to pull in millions of profit from each season.

The request was made by the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), which was originally based in Aleppo. In 2012 the Centre moved to Beirut in Lebanon to escape the conflict, but they don’t have access to their seed supplies, which is why they’ve asked to withdraw 130 of the 325 boxes that they dropped off to the vault before the war.

The organisation that runs the vault, Crop Trust, has said the request will be carried out as soon as the paperwork is completed. “Protecting the world’s biodiversity in this manner is precisely the purpose of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault,” spokesperson Brian Lainoff told Reuters earlier this week.

The vault currently includes more than 860,000 seed samples from almost every country on the planet. This withdrawal will take out around 116,000 of those samples, according to Reuters. But there are new deposits being made to the vault each year, so there’s no risk of the vault running out of seeds.