Packets on Shelves at ICARDA. Photo: Global Crop Diversity Trust/Britta Skagerfalt.

Extras    |   Posts    |   Vol. 2 Issue 3   

Syrian Crisis Causes the First Withdrawal from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) has requested the backup seed that they deposited in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault to restart their collection away from the horrors of the Syrian civil war. ICARDA is currently based in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, but was previously headquartered in Syria.

One reason gene banks exist is to provide breeders, scientists and farmers with seed varieties to improve crop growth and yields in the face of changing climates. Amid Syria’s brutal civil war, however, ICARDA has struggled to provide this function.

ICARDA managed to move its headquarters from Syria in the early days of the war, while some of its workers remained at the gene bank in Aleppo in an attempt to save the collection. The organisation managed to duplicate 80 percent of its collection in Svalbard as of March this year, where the seeds were safely stored along with others from around the world.

As it’s become more and more difficult for the organisation to handle requests for seeds from its former headquarters in Aleppo, ICARDA has requested to get some of its deposits back from Svalbard. ICARDA’s requested seeds won’t go back to Syria, but to a safer location outside of the country.

Voluntary Benefit-Sharing Activities of the European Seed Sector – We Need Your Help

The European Seed Association recently launched a new subpage of their website to help better identify the many projects the seed sector contributes to. The page is meant to be a living and dynamic site and ESA hopes that companies will regularly refresh the site.

In order to make this happen, the ESA Secretariat will refresh the site every three to four months and for that they will rely on your input. ESA asks for members to proactively notify the ESA Secretariat ( every time there is a new benefit-sharing project you launch or in which you are involved in. For those of you who have not yet provided input, please have a look at the kind of projects already included on the site to get a better idea of what projects we are looking for.

To access the site, visit


Book Review:The Triumph of Seeds

We live in a world of seeds. From our morning coffee to the cotton in our clothes, seeds support diets, economies, lifestyles, and civilizations around the globe. In the newly released book, The Triumph of Seeds, award-winning author and biologist Thor Hanson explores both the natural and cultural history of seeds – why they are so dominant in nature, and why we are so utterly dependent upon them. Spanning locations ranging from the Raccoon Shack – Hanson’s backyard writing hideout-cum-laboratory – to the rainforests of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, from our flower patches and backyard gardens to the spice routes of Kerala, The Triumph of the Seeds is a book of knowledge, adventure and wonder. Essential reading for anyone who loves who loves plants, or who may have wondered how the chili got its spice, what puts the buzz in coffee, or how seeds have influenced everything from the voyages of Christopher Columbus to the Industrial Revolution to the shape of the human face.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>