Seed World

Worldwide Network of Seed Info Taking Root

Efforts to preserve and protect plant information are accelerating — but not without risks, reports
As an increasingly bloody civil war raged around them, a team of scientists in the Syrian capital Aleppo quietly packaged and shipped a series of nondescript cardboard boxes to an island not far from the North Pole.
The boxes bore no sign of the conflict that had surrounded them or the precious material they contained. The scientists, from an International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) research station, had carefully packed up thousands of samples of barley, wheat, chickpea and other seeds: a treasure trove of genetic diversity.
“It was extraordinary,” says Ola Westengen, one of the scientists’ Norwegian colleagues who received the seeds. Westengen saw the seeds safely stored in a special vault buried in the permafrost on an Arctic archipelago. “These seeds are extremely valuable.”
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