of Genetics in Russia: Transcribed from
The story in a nutshell is...
Do you know who Luther Burbank was?
Luther Burbank was an amateur plant breeder.
He lived in Menlo Park, CA
He developed a reputation as a wizard of plant breeding.
He came from the same the same folk tradition in plant
breeding as a man in Russia named Ivan
Michurin and Burbank (for that matter) believed in the
inhertance of aquired characteristics.
That you can induce changes in the hereditary material.
And in the lifetime of an organism
And it would be passed on to its offspring.
An agronomists Trofim Denisovich
Lysenko was a plant breeder who claimed to
be following the tenets of Michurin.
And gained the ear of Stalin. He convinced Stalin to
put him essentially in charge of all genetics and in
fact of all biology in the Soviet Union. The reason
for this was that Mendelian genetics appeared to threaten
the viability of the “soviet communist project.”
The soviets had the aim of creating a so called, New
Soviet Man who would be not only socialized to be cooperative,
but biologically by nature that way. And the idea was
that if you raised the children for several generations
in a communist atmosphere and prevented their contamination
with capitalist exploitative ideas, you would change
their biological nature.
Mendelian genetics said, “it doesn’t work
Lysenko said, “of course it works that way!
And the wish was father to the thought and as a result.
Mendelian genetics was outlawed in the soviet union
and Michurianism and Lysenkoism had the force of law.
It was the only genetic theory permited in the Soviet
Very bizrre story. Before this Russia had been the world
leader in genetics. And nearly all their geneticists
either emigrated or ended up dying the Gulag.
That’s how Theodosius Dobzhansky one of the greatest
geneticist of all time ended up in the US in the 30’s.