Seed Safety Deposits: A Special Kind of Syrian Doomsaying

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All kinds of things portend escalating war in Syria, such as the country's envoy storming out of a U.N. meeting on the country's crisis, but the quiet deposit of Syrian seeds in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway carries a special kind of apocalyptic prediction. Perhaps it's the international seed repository's nickname, "the Doomsday Vault," that makes it seem especially foreboding, but even without that, the notion that the country needs a backup of its local crops just in case the current conflict destroys them is pretty unnerving. It suggests the conflict is moving well past overly violent crackdown on dissent and into earth-scorching war. Cary Fowler, the director of the group that oversees the vault, told The Atlantic's Ross Anderson that they'd received a shipment of Syrian seeds from an international organization that houses them locally:

One would not expect a seed bank, even in Syria, to be a target, but unfortunately there is a recent precedent: seed banks in Iraq and Afghanistan were destroyed or severely damaged over the course of the wars there, not because they were blown up or anything but because in the context of chaos and the breakdown of law and order, people have come in and looted them. So we're pretty happy to have that collection at the vault.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.