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“Even under Hitler, the Germans tried to preserve this collection”: Russian army damages Ukraine's only plant gene bank

UPD: Thousands of cultivars ready for seeding have been destroyed, but Ukraine’s plant gene bank mostly survived, says Plant Institute researcher.

As a result of the shelling of Kharkiv by the Russian army Ukraine's only Plant Genetic Resources Bank, one of the largest in the world, was damaged, reported doctor of agricultural sciences Serhiy Avramenko, leading researcher at the Yuriev Institute of Plant Industry of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. According to him, the Ukrainian military were never present in the institute building, it was a scientific institution that was targeted.

More than 160,000 varieties and hybrids of crops from all over the world were stored in the bank.

«Everything turned to ashes - tens of thousands of samples of seed material! Including varieties that are hundreds of years old, ancient, which can no longer be restored. Everything burnt out,» the scientist said.

«It saddens me to say that under Hitler's Germany, when the whole of Ukraine was under occupation, the Germans did not destroy this collection; on the contrary, they tried to preserve it, keep parts of it safe, because they knew their descendants might need it. After all, every country's food security depends on such banks of genetic resources, « the scientist said.

According to him, breeders from all over the world, including Russia, had been ordering samples from the gene pool to create their own varieties.

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