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LYSENKO, Trofim Denisovich (1898–1976)

Die Lage in der biologischen Wissenschaft. Tagung der Lenin-Akademie der landwirtschaftlichen Wissenschaften der UdSSR (31. Juli – 7. August 1948). Stenographischer Bericht.
Moskau, Verlag für fremdsprachige Literatur, 1949.

The German edition of the official report of the famous August Session of 1948 when it was decided to give Trofim D. Lysenko full and uncontested control of the biological sciences, as a prelude to the “the great Stalin plan for the transformation of nature.” One of the most extraordinary stories in the annals of science is that of Lysenko – the story of the suppression and of the eventual rehabilitation of the sciences of genetics. The story of Soviet genetics in the period 1937-64 is, perhaps, the most bizarre chapter in the history of modern science. Lysenko, the creator of 'agrobiology’, persuaded Soviet officials that his pesudo-science could achive great increase in farm yields at little or no costs. For 35 years, from 1929 to 1964, those officials helped him force his methods not only on collectivized peasants but also on scientists: first the preparation of seed and the science of plants physiology, then in plant breeding and genetics, and finally in a wide range of agricultural techniques and related sciences – from afforestation to the use of fertilizers, from cytology to soil science. To the outside world, it was completely incomprehensible that a country capable of developing a nuclear potential rivaling that of the United States, and of establishing itself in the forefront of space exploration, could have entrusted its fundamental agricultural resources to exploitation by an obvious quack. “Almost all the chief characteristics of the paranoid crank are exhibited by Lysenko. He is egoistical, fanatical, filled with hate for his enemies, and profoundly ignorant of scientific method. Lysenko can only be described as illiterate", writes Julian Huxley in his Heredity East and West (1949).

Collation: Pp 792.

Binding: Publisher’s green cloth.

References: Joravsky, David The Lysenko Affair (1970); Medvedev, Zhores A. The Rise and Fall of T. D. Lysenko (1969); Gardner, Martin, Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science (Dover Reprint, revised and expanded edition, 1957), pp 140-151.

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