ben moretti on Tue, 2 Apr 2002 10:21:24 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> More on Lysenko (for those who care)

Here is some more information on Lysenko, a Soviet agronomist who adopted
Lamark's theories. His technique of vernalisation as part of wheat
breeding was used in wheat that was sowed through Soviet collective farms,
and of course failed, causing the inevitable Soviet rural starvation. It
is really interesting to see the acceptance of his theories by the Soviet
dogmatists in parallel with the attitudes of technophiles towards features
such as SMS from mobile phones affecting thumb development as alluded to
in my earlier post. I should also state that I am not criticising Sadie
Plant nor anyone else directly here, it is more diffuse.


Lysenko, Trofim Denisovich 1898- 1976, Russian agronomist. As president of
the Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences he became the
scientific and administrative leader of Soviet agriculture. In 1937 he was
made a member of the Supreme Soviet and head of the Institute of Genetics
of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. He first became known for his process
(vernalization) of moistening and refrigerating the seed of spring wheat,
thereby reputedly imparting to it characteristics of winter wheat. He
became the leader of the Soviet school of genetics that opposed the
theories of heredity accepted by most geneticists and supported the
doctrine that characteristics acquired through environmental influences
are inherited (see acquired characteristics ). Lysenko rejected
neo-Mendelism and was a disciple of the Russian horticulturist I. V.
Michurin.  Lysenko's theories were offered as Marxist orthodoxy and won
the official support (1948) of the Soviet Central Committee.  However,
they were severely criticized after the death of Stalin in 1953, and in
1956 his resignation as president of the All-Union Academy of Agricultural
Sciences was announced. In 1965 he was removed as director of the
Institute of Genetics, which resulted in the return of Soviet biological
thought to the mainstream of international scientific ideas. Lysenko
stated his theories of inheritance of acquired characteristics in Heredity
and Its Variability(1943, tr. 1946) and in The Science of Biology
Today(1948, tr. 1948).

Bibliography: See J. Huxley, Heredity: East and West (1949, 
repr. 1969); Z.A. Medvedev, The Rise and Fall of T. D. Lysenko 
(tr. 1969); D. Joravsky, The Lysenko Affair (1970); V. N. 
Soyfer, Lysenko and the Tragedy of Soviet Science (1994). 

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