PRICELESS MEANS WORTHLESS?

from : http://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/priceless-or-worthless

Deliberate Extinction
http://latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-sci-seed-bank-ruling-20100812,0,7445908.story
“A Russian seed bank preserving more than 5,000 rare fruits, including unique varieties of strawberries, plums, pears, apples and currants, moved one step closer to demolition after losing a court hearing Wednesday, in which rights to the federally-owned land were granted to a government housing development agency. The Vavilov Research Institute, which manages the bank as well as 11 other crop development and conservation facilities across Russia, immediately filed an appeal. Another hearing will follow in about a month, at which point the land’s future will be finalized. It is unlikely, however, that the ruling will be changed, said Cary Fowler, director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. Even Sergey Alexanian, deputy director of foreign relations at the Vavilov Institute, acknowledged that the Russian Housing Development Foundation is legally in the right. The seed bank’s final hope is to win the support of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev or Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who have the power to overrule the court’s decision. So far, neither has responded to letters.”


Tamara Yashkina, a researcher at the Vavilov research institute that runs the seed bank outside St. Petersburg, sorts through oat seeds. {photo by Vyacheslav Yevdokimov}

Private Homes vs Global Good
http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-russian-seed-bank-20100811,0,5738442.story
“The threatened plants are part of a collection of rare berries and other fruits growing at the Pavlovsk Experimental Station, a seed bank that blankets over 200 acres of prime land about 20 miles outside St. Petersburg; 90% of the bank’s plant varietals are found nowhere else. “Saving varieties is critical for breeding,” said Kent Bradford, a plant scientist at UC Davis. “When breeders are faced with a new issue, like a disease or growing in a new area, they need to go back to that diversity to see which ones are resistant or have traits that they like.” The Pavlovsk facility is one of about 1,400 such operations in the world. The best known is probably the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on the remote Norwegian island of Spitzbergen in the Arctic, which keeps frozen seeds as backup for collections around the world, but that facility’s stores are far from complete. Moreover, not all plants can grow from frozen seeds — such as most of those at the Russian station. Furthermore, there is little possibility of relocating the Russian facility. An appropriate backup site isn’t available, and moving all the plants would be expensive and labor-intensive. “These are not some boxes to move to another location; these are trees,” Alexanian said. In short, if the fields are razed, the particular varietals that grow there will be gone forever. “There’s no backup for this collection, and that’s the real tragedy of it all,” said Cary Fowler. “This is extinction on a scale that I’ve not seen in my professional lifetime, and it can’t be replaced.”

Oldest Global Seed Bank
http://guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/aug/08/pavlovsk-seed-bank-russia
“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. “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 to death 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.”

Nikolai Vavilov
http://vir.nw.ru/history/vav_sp.htm
http://vir.nw.ru/history/vavilov.htm
“Vavilov is recognized as the foremost plant geographer of contemporary times. To explore the major agricultural centers in this country and abroad, Vavilov organized and took part in over 100 collecting missions. Vavilov, the symbol of glory of the national science, is at the same time the symbol of its tragedy. As early as in the beginning of the 1930’s his scientific programs were being deprived of governmental support. In the stifling atmosphere of a totalitarian state, the institute headed by Vavilov turned into a resistance point to the pseudo-scientific concepts of Trofim D.Lysenco. As a result of this controversy, Vavilov was arrested in August 1940, and his closest associates were also sacked and imprisoned. He died in the Saratov prison of dystrophia on 26 January 1943 and was buried in a common prison grave. Nevertheless, the memory of Vavilov has been preserved by his followers. During that tragic period they kept on gathering Vavilov’s manuscripts, documents and pictures. Since mid-50’s, after the official rehabilitation of Vavilov, hundreds of books and articles devoted to his life and scientific accomplishments have been published. The name of Vavilov is now born by the Russian Society of Geneticists and Breeders, the Institute of General Genetics of the Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Plant Industry, and the Saratov Agricultural Institute.”


One of the 893 blackcurrant varieties in the threatened collection.

Dear Mr. President
http://croptrust.org/main/index.php?itemid=773
http://eng.letters.kremlin.ru/
http://change.org/croptrust/petitions/view/tell_the_president_of_russia_to_stop_the_destruction_of_the_future_of_food
Medvedev’s New Twitter Account : “@KremlinRussia_E Mr. President, please protect #Pavlovsk Station”

Only 150 Plants in Cultivation (Down from 7000)
http://cchronicle.com/2009/11/from-india-six-lessons/
http://fao.org/DOCREP/004/V1430E/V1430E04.htm
http://nytimes.com/2005/08/17/world/europe/17iht-food.html
“Historically, humans utilized more than 7,000 plant species to meet their basic food needs. Today, due to the limitations of modern large-scale, mechanized farming, only 150 plant species are under cultivation, and the majority of humans live on only 12 plant species, according to research by the Food and Agriculture Organization. In the last century, dozens of varieties of corn, wheat and potato have disappeared. “This is not nearly as sexy as a panda going extinct, but the losses are far more dangerous for our survival,” Esquinas said. The consequences are potentially dire: Of the nearly 8,000 varieties of apple that grew in the United States at the turn of the century, more than 95 percent no longer exist. In Mexico, only 20 percent of the corn types recorded in 1930 can now be found. Only 10 percent of the 10,000 wheat varieties grown in China in 1949 remain in use.”


display showing grains, honey, vegetables and fruits produced by Indian farmers in a region where traditional crop diversity is still intact

Previously on Spectre : Guarded by Polar Bears, For Now
http://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2006/06/20/guarded-by-polar-bears-for-now/

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