[NAFEX] Pavlovsk seed bank faces destruction
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Mon Aug 23 14:47:39 EDT 2010
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From: dylanford <dylanford at optonline.net>
To: North American Fruit Explorers <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wed, August 11, 2010 8:51:57 PM
Subject: [NAFEX] Pavlovsk seed bank faces destruction
Pavlovsk seed bank faces destruction
>'Priceless collection' in Russia was never registered so is therefore
>worthless and does not officially exist, say developers
>Twelve Russian scientists famously chose to starve to death rather than eat
>the unique collection of seeds and plants they were protecting for humanity
>during the 900-day siege of Leningrad in the second world war. But the
>world's first global seed bank now faces destruction once more, to make way
>for a private housing estate.
>The fate of the Pavlovsk agricultural station outside St Petersburg will be
>decided in the courts this week. If, as expected, the case goes against it
>then the collection of plants built up over 85 years could be destroyed within
>At stake, say Russian and British campaigners for the station, is not just
>scientific history but one of the world's largest collection of strawberries,
>blackcurrants, apples and cherries. Pavlovsk contains more than 5,000
>varieties of seeds and berries from dozens of countries, including more than
>100 varieties each of gooseberries and raspberries.
>More than 90% of the plants are found in no other research collection or seed
>bank. Its seeds and berries are thought to possess traits that could be
>crucial to maintaining productive fruit harvests in many parts of the world as
>climate change and a rising tide of disease, pests and drought weaken the
>varieties farmers now grow. As it is predominantly a field collection,
>Pavlovsk cannot be moved. Experts estimate that even if another site were
>available nearby, it would take many years to relocate the plants.
>In what appears Kafkaesque logic, the property developers argue that because
>the station contains a "priceless collection", no monetary value can be
>assigned to it and so it is worthless. In another nod to Kafka, the
>government's federal fund of residential real estate development has argued
>that the collection was never registered and thus does not officially exist.
>"It is a bitter irony that the single most deliberately destructive act
>against crop diversity could be about to happen in the country that invented
>the modern seed bank," said Cary Fowler, of the Global Crop Diversity Trust.
>"Russia taught the world about the importance of crop collections for the
>future of agriculture. A decision to destroy Pavlovsk would forever tarnish a
>cause that generations of Russian plant scientists have lived and, quite
>literally, died, to protect."
>The station was established in 1926 by Nikolai Vavilov, the man credited with
>creating the idea of seed banks as repositories of plant diversity that could
>be used to breed new varieties in response to threats to food production.
>During the siege of Leningrad, 12 scientists chose to starve while protecting
>the diversity amassed by Vavilov, even though the seeds of rice, peas, corn
>and wheat that they were protecting could have sustained them. Vavilov died
>of malnutrition in prison in 1943, having criticised the anti-genetic
>concepts of Trofim Lysenko. But Russia has since elevated him to hero status.
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