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SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  August 2010

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE August 2010

Subject:

Planned destruction of food crop biodiversity center.

From:

Brian Foley <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 27 Aug 2010 19:26:57 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (211 lines)

This is a political / biological issue, current as of late August 2010 -- if
you're willing to take a tiny action or two, please do -- and please pass it
on to people who would be genuinely interested.

You're getting this letter because we (Janette and Will) feel strongly about
this issue, and think you might, too.  Please read what we've written, and
please take the time to send an e-mail and sign the petition linked below.


An irreplaceable resource for the world’s future food supply is about to be
intentionally destroyed!  Please read the following short synopsis, and
email letters to the addresses which follow, to prevent this catastrophic loss.

The Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry lying outside of St. Petersburg in
Russia is the world’s largest and first seed bank.  In the 1920s and ‘30s,
Nikolai Vavilov, a renowned botanist and geneticist, traveled to almost
every continent, collecting seeds to preserve wild genetic diversity, and
establishing the seed bank.  During the 900-day Nazi siege of Leningrad in
WWII, twelve students of Vavilov, botanists and geneticists, sacrificed
their lives to protect and preserve the collections of seeds that they and
their colleagues had collected from around the world.  Surrounded by seeds
and grains, they chose to starve rather than eat the future food supply of
the human race.  This is one of Russia’s stories of heroism!  This should
not be forgotten, nor their sacrifice made meaningless!

Now, however, a conscious decision is being made to destroy this repository
of diversity.  Part of the mission of a seed bank is to maintain the
productive viability of the food sources it stores, which requires growing
the plants, trees, and bushes in the ground – not just storing the seeds in
drawers.  Moreover, many varieties of plants do not breed ‘true’ and can
only be preserved by cultivating living plants. The Vavilov Institute’s
field site is the Pavlovsk Experimental Station, created in 1926.  In these
fields near St. Petersburg, botanists care for over 6,000 distinct varieties
of apples, pears, cherries, berries, currants and other fruits (including
more than 1000 varieties of strawberries) – 90% of which ONLY exist there,
and nowhere else on the planet.  But, at the end of this month of August
2010, the Pavlovsk Experimental Station is slated to be annihilated – it is
threatened to be bulldozed by developers wanting to put in commercial real
estate.  This case went to the Russian arbitration court earlier this month
(August 11), but the developers won using the following two points:  

 
the Pavlovsk Experimental Station was never officially registered, therefore
it does not exist,
the plants growing there, and the genetic diversity contained therein, are
priceless, therefore they are without a price, therefore (get this!) they
are worthless.

Two days after the arbitration court’s decision, Russian President Dmitry
Medvedev sent a tweet that said “Received the Civic Chamber’s appeal over
the Pavlov Experimental Station.  Gave the instructions for this issue to be
scrutinised.”  That means there is still a chance that we can save the
growing grounds:  we have until August 31.  The court’s judgement can only
be revoked through a direct order from the office of the Russian President
or the Prime Minister.  Transplanting the field collections would take
years, and resources that the institute doesn’t have.

Rare varieties of crop plants may seem like just curiosities in good times,
but when new blights appear, or climates change, they are literally beyond
price.  Food security for the world depends upon genetic diversity.


Please email letters to the following addresses.  Spread the word on
Facebook and Twitter, and email to people whom you think would be generally
interested (don't spam).  Let Russia know that this concerns not just
Russians, not just scientists, but all human beings.

1)  Please email Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the following link. 
http://eng.letters.kremlin.ru/send <http://eng.letters.kremlin.ru/send>   
A letter in English must contain no more than 2000 characters – so you can
just copy the one we have written below and paste it in if you don't feel up
to composing your own and counting its characters.
Also, you can send a second copy in Russian: copy the Russian translation
and email it separately to the same address.

AND you can Tweet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on behalf of the
Pavlovsk Station:

English: @KremlinRussia_E Mr. President, protect the future of food - save
#Pavlovsk Station! http://bit.ly/d2H96s  
Russian: @KremlinRussia Господин президент, защитите будущее сельского
хозяйства - спасите Павловскую станцию


 2)  Please follow this link to the organization Change.org:  it is also
collecting signatures for their petition concerning this issue!
http://www.change.org/croptrust/petitions/view/tell_the_president_of_russia_to_stop_the_destruction_of_the_future_of_food


Thank you so much for helping us protect the future of food on the Earth.

Janette and Will Fischer


Sample letter text (in English):
Original:

President Medvedev,

We are writing as scientists and human beings to urge your strong action to
preserve the Pavlovsk Experimental Station, the field site for the Vavilov
Institute of Plant Industry.

In the Nazi siege of Leningrad, scientists at the Vavilov Institute died as
quiet heroes.  During the 900-day siege, the guardians of the world’s first
and largest seed bank starved to death rather than eat the irreplaceable
collections of seed gathered from around the world.  These brave botanists
and geneticists died to preserve food crop variants for the needs of future
generations.

The seed bank survived the Nazis, but may not survive capitalism – the land
the Institute uses to propagate seed and to grow the many varieties that
must be preserved as live plants is slated to be bulldozed for a housing
development.  Over 6,000 varieties of apples, pears, cherries, and other
fruits (including more than 1000 kinds of strawberries) – 90% of which exist
nowhere else on the planet – will be annihilated if this plan goes through.

In good times, rare crop plants seem like academic curiosities, but they
contain the only raw material for plant breeding.  When new blights appear,
or as climates change, drought- or pest-resistant varieties are literally
beyond price.  Food security for the world depends upon genetic diversity. 
Russia is currently being ravaged by drought – genes that could provide new
crops will be lost forever if the institute fields are destroyed.

This destruction must be prevented.  Vavilov and his students and colleagues
are Russian heroes: they inspire scientists around the world.  Their
sacrifices should be honored, and their work preserved!  Vavilov’s
foresightedness created a resource for Russia and the world.  Will this
generation be short-sighted, or can we, like him, plan for future needs?

For the sake of your people and the people of the world, stop this
unecessary destruction.  Save the Pavlovsk Experimental Station!



Same text but in Russian:

Уважаемый Президент Медведев,

Мы обрашаемся к Вам как ученые и просто люди с призывом употребить свою
власть чтобы сохранить Павловскую Экспериментальную Станцию, опытное поле
для Института Растениеводства Имени Вавилова. 

Во время 900 дневной блокады Ленинграда ученые из Института Вавилова имели в
своих руках первый и крупнейший банк семян в мире, но они предпочитали
умирать от голода но не есть незаменимые коллекции семян собранные со всего
мира. Эти мужественные ученые умирали чтобы сохранить продовольственные
культуры для будущих поколений.  

Семенной фонд пережил фашистов и блокаду Ленинграда, но может не пережить
капитализм - земля, которую Институт использует для распоространения семян и
выращивания тех сортов которые должны быть сохранены как живые растения,
передана жилишному сектору. Если этот план проидет,  бульдозеры уничтожат
более 6000 сортов яблок, груш, вишни и других фруктов (в том числе более
1000 видов земляники и клубники) - 90% которых больше нет нигде на планете. 

В хорошие времена кажется что редкие растения представляют только
академический интерес, но они являются единственным материалом для селекции.
Во время стихийных бедствий и климатических изменений, сорта устойчивые к
засухе или к вредителям буквально бесценны. Продовольственная безопасность
мира зависит от генетического разнообразия.   Россия сейчас разорена засухой
- гены, которые могли бы обеспечить новые культуры будут безвозвратно
потеряны если институтские поля будут уничтожены.  

Это варварское уничтожение должно быть предотвращено. Вавилов и его студенты
и коллеги - российские герои. Они вдохновляют ученых всего мира. Их жертвы
не должны быть напрасными, дело их жизни должно быть сохранено!  Вавиловское
предвидение создало уникальный ресурс для будуших поколений России и всего
мира. Будет ли наше поколение близоруким или мы можем, подобно ему,
планировать будущие потребности?   

Ради своего народа и народов всего мира, остановите это ненужное
уничтожение! Сохраните Павловскую Экспериментальную Станцию! 




Thank you,

Janette and Will Fischer


p.s. If you feel full of energy you can also email copies of this letter
(probably the Russian version) to the following Russian officials:

The Minister of Agriculture is Yelena Skrynnik.  She can be reached at:
[log in to unmask]   (please send the Russian translation)


The Director and Deputies of the Department of Science and Technology Policy
and Education:
Director:  V. Nungezer email:  [log in to unmask]
Deputy:   M. Bunin email:  [log in to unmask]
Deputy:  V. Berdyshev email:  [log in to unmask]
Deputy:  N. Sorokin email:  [log in to unmask]

The Department of Plants (use of chemicals and plant protection)
Director:  Petr Chekmarev email:  [log in to unmask]
Deputy:  Yuri Duhanina email:  [log in to unmask]
Deputy:  K. Abdrakhmanov email:  [log in to unmask]

More info is available at these links, and by googling Pavlovsk Experimental
Station
Science: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/329/5994/899.pdf
New Scientist:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20627663.500-vital-fruit-and-berry-collection-set-for-destruction.html
The Guardian, London: 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/aug/16/russia-president-pavolvsk-twitter
Global Crop Diversity Trust's petition:
http://www.change.org/croptrust/petitions/view/tell_the_president_of_russia_to_stop_the_destruction_of_the_future_of_food

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