“Syrian Seedbank Wins Award For Continuing Work Despite Civil War” Essay Examples

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Syria, Genetics, Banking, Middle East, Agriculture, Food, War, Soil

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/12/25

Aleppo (or Habab) is a city in Syria with a population of over 2,000,000 people. It is also one of the oldest cities that is still in operation in the world. It is estimated that Aleppo has existed 6,000 B.C. according to archeologists. Mentions of the ancient city has been uncovered on cuneiforms from Mesopotamia. The geographic location made it an important location in the Levant. For thousands of years it was mentioned as a strategic place for military and trade between Asia and the West. After the completion of the Suez Canal, the city began a slow decline since land travel was no longer necessary between the East and West (Syrian Arab Republic).
The area has always been fertile and is an important agricultural area. Archeological evidence uncovered confirms that Aleppo was one of the first areas in the history of civilization to cultivate wheat, barley and other crops. It is considered part of the “fertile crescent” of good farmland located along and extending from the Euphrates River. It is well known for its pistachios and olives. However, the city over the last 70 years became a manufacturing center including the processing of food (Syrian Arab Republic).
In recent years, Syria has been unable to avoid the continuing conflict and bloodshed in the Middle East. Protests that began in 2011 have erupted into a full blown and violent conflict between rebels and the government. Fighting between the rebels and the government and infighting between rebel factions has left over 220,000 people dead.
In the midst of this turmoil is the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA). The center was organized and funded by the World Bank and funding from private sources. It is one of 14 such seed banks in the world, which are part of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. A major part of the institution is its gene bank which collects, houses and protects over 131,000 types of seeds from chickpeas to barley. The purpose of the gene bank is to protect this precious asset for farmers who are desperate for seed to plant after disaster or conflict. They possess the promise of food and the return of agriculture (Seeds in Threatened Soil).
In an article from The Guardian, ICARDA was awarded the Gregor Mendel Award for their achievement in the preservation of those seeds. A team of twelve scientists work at the center, their job is to create, sort, and package the seeds as well as keep them safe from harm, be it mankind or the environment. Many samples of the seeds will be moved from the Syrian location to another facility in Norway due to the excellent conditions there. The director general of ICARDA, Mahmoud Sohl stated the seed bank represents the genetic wealth of humanity and “The role of gene collection in preserving crop biodiversity and ensuring future food supply has become particularly important as climate change poses a serious threat to crops and food security in the developing world” (Harvey n.p.). The scientists who collect and preserve the seeds have risked their lives on a daily basis in light of the continuing civil war.
The bank has already proven that maintain the safety and health of the seeds is of urgent importance. Taliban forces looted the seed bank of Afghanistan in 2002, not for the seeds but for the plastic bottles they were in. In 2003, Iraq sent a black box of seeds to ICARDA for safekeeping (Seeds in Threatened Soil). It seems that governments are willing to spend billions of dollars on war efforts and yet a very small fraction of that on preserving the world’s food supply.
Human violence is not the only threat. Many of the seeds are from lines that are centuries old. They are threatened by new diseases that now plague agriculture such as wheat stem rust. Disease spreads much more quickly in today’s society due to the globalization of agriculture. Scientists explain that today’s agricultural producers tend to focus on a few varieties of seeds that have a proven track record for growing well which makes the gene pool for seeds shallow. Farmers breed plants to attain the best and heartiest of plants. Unfortunately by breeding for only current desired traits breeds out genetic traits that could be valuable at another time or in another place. Preserving the genes of all crops is important. This in turn could prove disastrous if a variety is targeted by disease. The wide variety of seeds held at the bank for not only planting if needed but genetic research and breeding (Harvey n. p.).
This headline of this story seems tame and boring at first glance, but deeper research reveals the critical importance of the role of the ICARTA seed bank. Syrian civil war has created not only instability in the region but chaos. As history has witnessed too often, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, war and strife do not consider the long term effects of a viable food supply. Farmers too, are placing varieties of crops and plants in danger by breeding out qualities they find troublesome, losing valuable genes in the process. Situated amid dry desert land, the area around Aleppo is a crucial agricultural center that grows and supplies food to millions for the last 5,000 years. ICARTA is doing the region a great service by protecting this valuable resource.

Works cited

Harvey, Fiona. “Syrian Seedbank Wins Award for Continuing Work despite Civil War.” The
Guardian 19 Mar 2015. Web 19 Mar 2015. <http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/
mar/19/syrian-seedbank-wins-award-for-continuing-work-despite-civil-war.>
“Seeds in Threatened Soil.” Nature, the International Weekly Journal of Science 435 (2005):
537-538. Web 19 Mar 2015
<http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v435/n7042/full/435537b.html>
“Syrian Arab Republic.” Fanack Chronicle. 1 Mar 2015. Web 19 Mar 2015.
<https://chronicle.fanack.com/syria/>.

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WePapers. (2020, December, 25) “Syrian Seedbank Wins Award For Continuing Work Despite Civil War” Essay Examples. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/syrian-seedbank-wins-award-for-continuing-work-despite-civil-war-essay-examples/
"“Syrian Seedbank Wins Award For Continuing Work Despite Civil War” Essay Examples." WePapers, 25 Dec. 2020, https://www.wepapers.com/samples/syrian-seedbank-wins-award-for-continuing-work-despite-civil-war-essay-examples/. Accessed 17 April 2024.
WePapers. 2020. “Syrian Seedbank Wins Award For Continuing Work Despite Civil War” Essay Examples., viewed April 17 2024, <https://www.wepapers.com/samples/syrian-seedbank-wins-award-for-continuing-work-despite-civil-war-essay-examples/>
WePapers. “Syrian Seedbank Wins Award For Continuing Work Despite Civil War” Essay Examples. [Internet]. December 2020. [Accessed April 17, 2024]. Available from: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/syrian-seedbank-wins-award-for-continuing-work-despite-civil-war-essay-examples/
"“Syrian Seedbank Wins Award For Continuing Work Despite Civil War” Essay Examples." WePapers, Dec 25, 2020. Accessed April 17, 2024. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/syrian-seedbank-wins-award-for-continuing-work-despite-civil-war-essay-examples/
WePapers. 2020. "“Syrian Seedbank Wins Award For Continuing Work Despite Civil War” Essay Examples." Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. Retrieved April 17, 2024. (https://www.wepapers.com/samples/syrian-seedbank-wins-award-for-continuing-work-despite-civil-war-essay-examples/).
"“Syrian Seedbank Wins Award For Continuing Work Despite Civil War” Essay Examples," Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com, 25-Dec-2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/syrian-seedbank-wins-award-for-continuing-work-despite-civil-war-essay-examples/. [Accessed: 17-Apr-2024].
“Syrian Seedbank Wins Award For Continuing Work Despite Civil War” Essay Examples. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/syrian-seedbank-wins-award-for-continuing-work-despite-civil-war-essay-examples/. Published Dec 25, 2020. Accessed April 17, 2024.
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