The seed bank, built in 2008 on a remote island halfway between Norway and the North Pole, holds 860,000 seed samples deposited by countries all over the world. It’s meant to serve as “the final back up” for the world’s staple crops — rice from Asia, African maize, European barley — just in case they accidentally get obliterated through disease or nuclear war.
Svalbard is the largest of the 1,700 seed vaults all over the world, one of which is in the Syrian city of Aleppo. That bank — together with its samples of wheat, barley, and grasses developed for arid regions — has been badly damaged by the ongoing civil war, forcing its researchers to retrieve almost half of the seeds they’d deposited in Svalbard for long-term safekeeping, according to Reuters. Many countries in the Middle East rely on seed distribution from the Aleppo bank.
Full article: Syria’s Civil War Forced This Arctic Doomsday Seed Bank to Open Early (Inverse)