When the seed bank in Tal Hadya, Syria, was threatened with destruction in the civil war that has engulfed that country, the seeds were smuggled out. Now, some those seeds — from wild wheat relatives in the Fertile Crescent — are being planted in the American Midwest in the hopes that they can protect the U.S. wheat crop from the pests and disease brought by a changing climate, according to FERN’s latest story, published with Yale Environment 360. No paywall
Salvatore Ceccarelli knew he was engaging in a subversive act when, in 2010, he took two twenty kilo sacks of bread and durum wheat seeds from a seed bank outside of Aleppo, Syria and brought them to Italy during a visit back to his home country. Now, seven years later, those seeds from the Fertile Crescent, the birthplace of domesticated agriculture, with thousands of years of evolution behind them, are poised to challenge the system of plant patenting in Europe, and, soon enough perhaps, the United States.
With the largest reverse-osmosis desalination plant in the world, Israel is now the only country in the Middle East to have a water surplus, says Ensia. But if other countries take Israel's cue, all that extra water could mean less fighting.
An international research center that specializes in arid agriculture has managed to duplicate and transfer most of its 148,000 accessions to seed banks far outside the war zone in Syria.