Scientists remove first seeds from ‘doomsday’ Arctic seed vault. Why? War in Syria

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It does look amazing, but for me it’s enough to know that it exists - don’t particularly want to visit. And while I’m pleased it exists and the first withdrawal has been made, I’m also kinda saddened that it has to exist at all and that the first withdrawal has taken place because of the conflict in Syria destroying/damaging the Aleppo facility…


There is tremendous values in keeping a seed bank even without accelerated climate change or wars. Recombination is always remixing things, and capturing snapshots of diversity is useful for study and crop improvement.


I used to know a Syrian dude growing up whose parents worked for ICARDA. God… I hope he’s doing alright.


This story is reminding me of how many people put their lives on the line to protect Egypt’s antiquities during the Arab Spring.

This is human nature at its finest.


I’m trying to imagine the conditions under which it would be financially expedient for a profit-motivated individual or corporation to destroy this seed bank.

If the project is important enough to all of humanity for almost every country on earth to have contributed to it, there is for sure some twisted, fucked up way in which its total destruction will be financially beneficial to an unethical entity.

And that appears to be the reality of the world folks.


We need enough of them so losing one doesn’t really matter.

Ideally, we’d have them, in addition to physical seeds, as digitized DNA. That way, a given plant could be reconstructed even if none of its seeds are existing anymore. Files can be stored and duplicated all around the globe way easier; anybody of us then could have a backup on a 8-terabyte cold-storage shingle-write disk under their bed.

business proposal:

  • found a non-profit philanthropic trust and become main sponsor of as many seed banks as possible
  • use the store content for plant breeding (be it classical breeding or genetic modification) but call it decentral duplicating or so
  • copyright/patent the varieties (bonus points for doing this for the original seeds)
  • stop supporting the seed banks (oops, out of funds)
  • sell the “new” seeds worldwide

It feels wrong “liking” your post, but you did provide a concrete answer to the question!


LOL, it was a rhetorical question but I like your answer.

I was thinking more along the lines of:

  • Create your own seed bank with about 2% the variety of seeds to keep storage costs down.

  • Bomb the existing international seed bank with neutron bombs and chemical/biological weapons.

  • Sell your own badly managed and failing seed bank seeds to the desperate populace of the irradiated and poisoned earth of which your are one of the leading billionaire stewards.

  • Marginally profit whilst the earth dies.


•get used to potatoes


Dunno, your upfront costs are prohibitively high - all the NBC weapons are expensive and other WMD owners are probably very pissed.

The Crop Trust (one of the most important organisations financing seed conservation and together with the Norwegian government main sponsors of the Svalbard Vault) had an income of 25 millions US Dollars in 2014. I’m quite sure if you would pump the double or triple amount for 10 years (+/-) most other trusts/governments/whatever will stop or considerably lower the money flowing to seed banks.

Stopping the cash flow abruptly will be very disruptive and I think it would be disastrous for some of the banks as they will have to find other sources of income before the seed cache is harmed.

Less than a billion dollars in a decade for pulling such a stunt? Probably doable and profitable.

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Or you could emplace a few well-paid people into the seed bank and have them incur a disastrous heating event which destroys all of the seeds.

Cost (not including pay of saboteurs): 22c for a box of matches, 2$ for some gasoline.

Results: priceless.

You’re obviously just not evil enough for this game. :wink:

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222 cents investment without profit? Uncle Scrooge (and congenial (neo-)capitalists) is very disappointed in you.

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Priceless, my profit is all the profit. Once I’ve demanded the entire world economy for the only non-irradiated seeds left.



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