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The Profit of the EarthThe Global Seeds of American Agriculture$
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Courtney Fullilove

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226454863

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226455051.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

Field Notes “Green Revolutions”

Field Notes “Green Revolutions”

Hunting Turkey Wheat

(p.13) Field Notes “Green Revolutions”
The Profit of the Earth

Courtney Fullilove

University of Chicago Press

Two years after my trips to the Tigris and Euphrates and the Aras, I washed up on the banks of a different river: the Neva, in the city of Saint Petersburg, Russia. My task was to research the Turkey wheat, the hard red winter wheat conveyed to the nineteenth-century American Midwest, at its point of origin, drawing on the resources of the institution that sponsored so many early collecting expeditions to the regions of cultivation. My destination was the Nikolai Vavilov Research Institute for Plant Industry (VIR), named for a martyr of early biodiversity preservation. Imprisoned in 1940 for sparring with Trofim Lysenko and running afoul of Stalinist orthodoxies, Vavilov ultimately starved in prison. Lysenko explicitly rejected Vavilov’s embrace of Mendelian genetics, favoring Lamarckian ideas of environmentally acquired inheritance. With Stalin’s blessing, Lysenko turned his theoretical commitments to a campaign against his opponents. By the late 1930s, Vavilov’s theories and habit of consorting with foreigners in the collection of global plant genetic resources had rendered him susceptible to charges of treason....

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