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Housing plan threatens seed bank in Russia

[ 2010-08-25 11:47]     字号 [] [] []  
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Housing plan threatens seed bank in Russia

Plant scientist Svetlana Arbuzova weeds at the Pavlovsk Agricultural Station in Pavlovsk, near St.Petersburg, Russia

This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Russia's Pavlovsk Experimental Station houses one of the oldest seed and plant collections in the world. But this month a court agreed to let the Russian Housing Development Foundation take control of the land.

The Russian government established the foundation in 2008. The foundation wants to build housing on the land near Saint Petersburg that the collection now occupies.

Russian officials could still decide to rescue the station. If not, it could be gone within months.

The station would not be at all easy to move, even if enough land could be found quickly. Most of the collection grows in the ground. Agricultural specialists say trying to transplant it would take years.

The Pavlovsk Experimental Station is part of the N.I. Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry. The institute already existed as a research center when plant scientist Nikolai Vavilov reorganized it in the 1920s. The institute was named in his honor in 1930.

The experimental station includes plants that are not found in any other seed bank. It also has Europe's largest field bank for fruits and berries. More than 100 varieties each of raspberries and gooseberries grow on its many hectares.

The Global Crop Diversity Trust has been working to save the collection since it first appeared threatened. The trust, a food security group, has been urging people to appeal to Russian officials.

An order from President Dmitri Medvedev or Prime Minister Vladimir Putin could stop the housing development. President Medvedev has started an investigation.

The collection has been threatened before. During World War Two, German troops surrounded Saint Petersburg, then called Leningrad. Scientists protected the seeds and plants even as people starved.

The Pavlovsk Experimental Station is one of an estimated 1,400 seed and plant preservation centers worldwide.

Some have been damaged or destroyed by war, natural disasters and theft. In 2008 Norway opened a so-called doomsday vault designed to be secure from any threat -- even an asteroid strike.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is in the side of a mountain. The huge, icy space holds extra copies of seeds from other seed banks. In February, it received its half-millionth seed variety to keep safe.

And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. I'm Bob Doughty.

raspberry: a small dark red soft fruit that grows on bushes(覆盆子;山莓;悬钩子)

gooseberry: a small green fruit that grows on a prickly bush.Gooseberries taste sour and are usually cooked to make jam, pies, etc.(茶藨子;醋栗)

asteroid: any one of the many small planets which go around the sun(小行星)

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(来源:VOA 编辑:陈丹妮)