Egyptian gene bank looting — collateral damage or “counter-insurgency”?

From Matt Styslinger, at the Energy Bulletin news site:

Egyptian deserts gene bank. Photo via Agricultural diversity weblog

The effort to maintain the world’s biodiversity has taken another hit. In the chaos surrounding the political unrest and public uprising in Egypt, looters have badly damaged the country’s Desert Research Center in El Sheikh Zowaid in North Sinai. The center houses the Egyptian Deserts Gene Bank (EDGB), and—according to the Global Crop Diversity Trust—equipment has been stolen and the cooling system has been damaged.

Genetic resources have been lost after the Egyptian Deserts Gene Bank was looted and damaged amidst Egypt’s political unrest. (Photo credit: Raïsa Mirza)The EDGB is focused on desert plants found throughout Egypt and includes a herbarium and specialized laboratories for tissue culture, biotechnology, species documentation, and seed processing and viability testing. The center also has an 18-acre field gene bank that focuses on the use of plant genetic resources in local communities near the center. The field collection includes wild varieties of fruit, forages, medicinal plants, and aromatic plants from the Egyptian deserts. In addition, the facilities included computerized ex-situ seed storage, for the conservation of threatened species not native to the region. The center was selected as a Centre of Excellence for the region by Bioversity International in 2009.

Efforts to catalog and conserve the world’s plant genetic resources have gained recognition and momentum in recent years as biodiversity is increasingly threatened by population growth, environmental degradation, and climate changes. The United Nations (UN) named 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity, raising awareness and boosting efforts to address the issue. In October, parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) met in Nagoya, Japan and agreed to the Nagoya protocol, which will go into effect in 2020. The protocol will serve to manage the world’s genetic resources and share the financial benefits equitably with developing countries and indigenous communities as those resources are used, patented, and sold.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released its second report on The State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in November, warning of the failure to conserve wild plant varieties related to crops grown for food. The loss of biodiversity will likely have major impacts on food security in the world’s poorest communities, and the report outlines what is being done to protect biodiversity of food crops….”

Read it all on the Energy Bulletin

A not-directly-related story on John Robb’s Global Guerillas blog makes one wonder if there are “anti-human” forces at work in the gene bank incident:

“EGYPT: Looting as Counter-Insurgency

There have been a growing number of reports of looters/thugs conducting smash and grabs across Cairo.  Interestingly, there’s also a growing number of reports that when these thugs are caught, they have police/interior ministry identification on them.  If this is so, the reasons for it are:

  1. It tars the insurgency as a group of criminals and thugs.
  2. It provides a reason for a reluctant army to get involved and enact a curfew.
  3. It forces a percentage of the movement to stay at home (to guard the neighborhood).

This above has the potential to set the stage for a harsh response domestically.  It could also help provide cover to the regime globally (hitting the Egyptian Museum was smart in this respect, given how many people around the world care much more for the artifacts there than the freedom of 80 m Egyptians).

The question is: will it work?  A decade ago, certainly.  Today?  No way.  Too much backchannel.”

John Robb is a military theorist and author of the book “Brave New War”. I’m pretty sure he also wrote a book about Afghanistan that the U.S military suddenly decided it didn’t want circulated, and so they bought up the entire print run of 10,000 copies or so. But the funny thing is, that although that was only a few months ago, I can’t seem to find any trace of the story now on Google or Bing. If anybody out there has links to that story, please post them in the comments. The point is, this John Robb guy probably knows what he’s talking about.

And finally, to round out this little Egyptian jag on The Bovine, here are a few words from the Twilight Language blog, about the occult significance of recent events in Egypt:

“….The observations made at this blog are that the answers may be in the “where” and the “when,” as much as the “what” and the “who.” Such threads of reality are being played out in the events from the Middle East.

Others have said this in different ways, regarding the breaking news out of Egypt. Indeed, the evidence is mounting for the pivotal role of this ancient land in the current state of affairs.  I, for example, have been pondering the location and histories of the “squares” in the events, oftentimes sparked by the self-immolations taking place within them, and then watching as they remain significant as the sites of the mass demonstrations.

Despite the beginnings in Tunisia for this current Arab/Moorish/Muslin wave of revolutionary/freedom feelings and changes, it seems to be all coming down to what is going to happen in Egypt for a clue to that part of the world’s future.

“If you consider yourself a magician, and especially if you identify with the Rosicrucian or Hermetic traditions — or even if you’re a freemason, or a member of one of dozens of other traditional orders — Egypt is the source. Egypt is where you end up when you follow all the lines of the Western Tradition to their origins,” writes Magian Rumination.

One key location, of course, is Tahrir Square.  Tahrir Square or Midan Tahrir (Arabic: English translation, Liberation Square) is a major public town square in downtown Cairo, Egypt. The square was originally called Midan Ismaileyya (Ismailia Square), after the 19th-century ruler Khedive Ismail Pasha, who commissioned the new downtown district’s “Paris on the Nile” design. After the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, bringing Egypt from a constitutional monarchy with British occupation into an independent republic, the square’s name was changed to Midan Tahrir or “Liberation Square.”
The squares were basically built as Masonic sites. Prince Ismail Pasha (1830-1895) was the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Egypt …..”
More on the gene bank looting: Agricultural biodiversity weblog
The lead story also appears on Nourishing the Planet


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2 responses to “Egyptian gene bank looting — collateral damage or “counter-insurgency”?

  1. Wow, thanks for this information. The more you dig the deeper the hole seems to be. Also thanks for that info on Nourishing the Planet, that seems like a really practical organization, we need to get one started here in Canada, I want a cow–or a goat…

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