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September 4, 2010

You’ve probably heard about the proposed destruction of the Pavlovsk research station near St Petersburg in favour of new houses. If not, here’s an article from the BBC about it – it’s one of the largest collections in the world, with thousands of varieties of plants that aren’t found anywhere else, and because it’s a living collection rather it can’t be moved (unlike a collection of seeds, for example). Although there are reports that it’s been granted at least a temporary reprieve, we need to keep up the pressure and make sure it’s not lost forever. So I’ve added a link to the Global Crop Diversity Trust’s petition to the sidebar – please sign it!!

From the Guardian:

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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