Russian forces have destroyed the national gene bank of plants of Ukraine, according to its lead researcher of the institute Sergey Avramenko.
Avramenko made the announcement in a video posted on his YouTube channel.
Understood to be one of the world’s largest plant gene banks, the National Centre for Genetic Resources of Plants of Ukraine (NCPGRU), located in Kharkiv, was destroyed during the war.
The bank kept more than 160,000 varieties of plant seeds, and hybrids of agricultural crops grown worldwide, with seeds stored in special storage facilities so that future generations could restore them, according to Avramenko.
The Ukrainian researcher warned that that among the destroyed seed samples, there are those that no longer exist in Europe or elsewhere in the world.
He said throughout the operations of the gene bank, seed samples were often ordered by crop and plant specialists from different countries, including Russia, to carry out selection work on a particular crop that would be adapted for farmers in a specific area.
It is not known how the gene bank was destroyed or if all seed samples were affected, but on 2 May 2022, NCPGRU held an online meeting with the National Coordinators of Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) of other European countries.
German, Swedish and Polish plant experts are said to have then praised the global importance of Ukraine’s genetic plant resources.
Following the meeting, they expressed concern over the welfare of the NCPGRU scientists and it is understood they were seeking to provide technical and humanitarian support.
It is not know how many, if any, Avramenko’s colleagues were harmed or injured in the Russian attack.