In 2014, staff of the International Center for Agricultural Research In Dry Areas (also known as ICARDIA), fled the gene bank near Aleppo, Syria, as the war in that country continued to escalate. Fortunately, scientists had already shipped valuable seeds to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on a remote Arctic Island. Since 2008, ICARDIA has been depositing unusual varieties of seeds, including chickpeas, lentils and alfalfa, to the facility. Wars, climate change, fires and other disasters make it critical to preserve the integrity of the seeds, so that they can be cultivated to feed the world. Ola Westengen of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences traveled to Morocco last year and stood in a wheat field grown from seeds that had traveled thousands of miles to return to their native soil. "It was quite emotional, actually," Westengen told Wired magazine, "to be there and see these seeds that had been sitting in boxes in Svalbard were now growing out there in the field."

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