N.I.Vavilov Institute of Plant Genetic Resources

N.I.Vavilov Institute of Plant Genetic Resources (VIR)

Russian Ministry of Economic Development adopts resolutions destroying the European largest field genebank and replacing it with commercial cottages 

On December 25, 2009 the Federal Agency for Public Estate Management under the Russian Ministry of Economic Development issued two resolutions (Orders No. 2058-R and No. 2061-R). They sanctioned termination of perpetual (irrevocable) tenure over lots 2 and 18 granted to VIR's Pavlovsk Experiment Station and conveyance of this land to the Federal Fund of Residential Real Estate Development no later than in three months.

It is virtually impossible, however, to carry out such a transfer within three months or even in a three-year period.

The problem is that these lots harbor in vivo unique fruit and berry plants as well as perennial fodder crop samples (about 10,000 accessions) belonging to Vavilov's global collection of plant genetic resources. This part of the collection was founded as long ago as in 1926 by Nikolai Vavilov himself and his closest associates. 

During the past 80 years the collection has been replenished with plants from all over the world and maintained in viable condition by several generations of Russian scientists. Their painstaking selfless efforts helped to build up Europe's largest northwestern field genebank of cultivated fruit and berry plants. This genetic diversity is not only actively utilized by domestic researchers, but also recognized and valued by the world's scientific community. 

Acknowledging paramount importance of Vavilov's collection in solving global food security problems, FAO of the United Nations in 2009 appealed to the Russian Government requesting inclusion of the collection into the global network of genebanks. The Russian agricultural minister E.B. Skrynnik, being convinced that Vavilov's heritage may be crucial for food security under the ongoing climate change, gave positive response to this request on behalf of the Russian Federation. 

However, functionaries from the Ministry of Economic Development are obviously unaware of such a serious challenge to the modern civilization. They seemed to think like that: "Let's cut down the trees - out of sight, out of mind!" We don't know whether such bureaucratic reasoning was caused by incompetence or corruption but do hope that the court will be able to sort out this puzzle - the hearing is scheduled for the 21st of April. 

The administration of the Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry (VIR) and the staff of Pavlovsk Experiment Station have forwarded open letters to the President of the Russian Federation D.A. Medvedev and the Prime Minister V.V. Putin seeking their support in shielding the world's heritage against irresponsible acts of certain Russian functionaries. 

These documents can be viewed at our official website: documents (only Russian)

For more detailed information please see our website or call the following phone numbers: 
(812) 314-2234 - office of the Vavilov Institute 
(812) 465-1202 - office of Pavlovsk Station