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Act today and Save the world's first seed bank

Recently, a Russian court ruled that the world’s first seed bank outside of St. Petersburg may be destroyed to make way for private housing developments. If allowed, this decision will have a catastrophic impact on global plant diversity. Called a “Living Library”, the Pavlovsk Station, is considered the crown jewel “of agricultural biodiversity” since 90% of the collection’s varieties are not found anywhere else on the planet. Scientists around the world are calling the decision an assault against biodiversity and the memory of the bitter struggle that kept this renowned seed bank alive during the darkest days of World War II.

We must save this priceless resource of biodiversity, please act today!

Here is the letter that we will send to the Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin on your behalf. Please add your comments to personalize your message.

Dear President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin,

I am writing to ask you to embrace Russia's heroic tradition as protector of the world’s crop diversity and halt the planned destruction of an incredibly valuable crop collection near St. Petersburg.

Russian scientists famously starved to death rather than surrender their seeds during the 900-day siege of Leningrad during World War II.

The Pavlovsk Station matters because humanity needs crops to survive. As the climate changes and new threats to existing crop varieties appear, the ones we have now need to adapt, and the diversity found at the Pavlovsk Station provides this adaptation potential for a broad range of fruits and berries.

• The plant germplasm maintained at the Pavlovsk Experiment Station of the Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry is a “gold mine” on a global scale, because it contains the genetic resources needed for the development of modern cultivars, i.e. for modern agriculture. In the case of the Pavlosk’s strawberry collection alone, genetic diversity from 40 countries and all continents is stored there.

• For all practical purposes, the collection cannot be moved elsewhere. It would cost some millions of dollars perhaps, and take over 10 years to ensure the safe duplication of all the accessions, and there is no guarantee of 100% success.

• An intrinsic part of the value of the collection is the expertise of the scientists who have studied it and maintained it. Continuous in-depth studies have provided vital information on detailed  characteristics of major economic and biological traits, and allowed the collection to be used successfully in breeding many commercially successful crop varieties. The loss of the botanical wealth at the Pavlovsk Station would also result in the loss of the human knowledge associated with this important collection.

• The Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry remains a source of inspiration worldwide, particularly as a demonstration of the importance to humanity of the genetic diversity of our crops. It was the scene of great heroism during the Siege of Leningrad, when scientists chose to die in the Institute,  surrounded by samples of seed that they could easily have eaten, but they preferred to ensure these
collections would be available to future generations.

Thank you for your consideration.


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