Department of History
University of California, Irvine
Instructor:    Dr. Barbara J. Becker


Week 9.  Natural Selection

The Situation in the Science of Biology
An address delivered at a session of the All-Union Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences
(31 July - 7 August 1948)

by Academician Trofim Denisovich Lysenko (1898-1976)


Trofim Denisovich Lysenko (1898-1976)


AGRONOMY deals with living bodies--plants, animals, micro-organisms.  A theoretical grounding in agronomy must, therefore, include knowledge of biological laws....

The ... state of the science treating of the laws of the life and development of vegetable and animal forms, i.e., primarily of the science known for half a century now as genetics, is of essential importance for our agricultural science.


THE appearance of [Charles] Darwin's teaching, expounded in his book, The Origin of Species, marked the beginning of scientific biology.

The primary idea in Darwin's theory is his teaching on natural and artificial selection.  Selection of variations favorable to the organism has produced the purposefulness which we observe in living nature, in the structure of organisms and their adaptation to their conditions of life.  Darwin's theory of selection provided a rational explanation of the purposefulness observable in living nature.  His idea of selection is scientific and true.  In substance, his teaching on selection is a summation of the age-old practical experience of plant and animal breeders who, long before Darwin, produced strains of plants and breeds of animals by the empirical method.

Darwin investigated the numerous facts obtained by naturalists in living nature and analyzed them through the prism of practical experience.  Agricultural practice served Darwin as the material basis for the elaboration of his theory of Evolution, which explained the natural causation of the adaptation we see in the structure of the organic world.  That was a great advance in the knowledge of living nature....

The classics of Marxism, while fully appreciating the significance of the Darwinian theory, pointed out the errors of which Darwin was guilty....  A major fault, for example, is the fact that, along with the materialist principle, Darwin introduced into his theory of evolution reactionary Malthusian ideas....

Darwin himself recorded the fact that he accepted the Malthusian idea.  In his Autobiography we read:

"In October 1838, that is, fifteen months after I had begun my systematic enquiry, I happened to read for amusement [Thomas Robert] Malthus on Population, and being well prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence which everywhere goes on from long-continued observation of the habits of animals and plants, it at once struck me that under these circumstances favorable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavorable ones to be destroyed.  Here then I had at last got a theory by which to work." [My emphasis--T.L.]
Many are still apt to slur over Darwin's error in transferring into his teaching Malthus's preposterous reactionary ideas on population.  The true scientist cannot and must not overlook the erroneous aspects of Darwin's teaching.

Biologists should always ponder these words of [Friedrich] Engels:

"The entire Darwinian teaching on the struggle for existence merely transfers from society to the realm of living nature [Thomas] Hobbes's teaching on bellum omnium contra omnes [man is at war against every man] and the bourgeois economic teaching on competition, along with Malthus's population theory.  After this trick (the absolute justification for which I deny, particularly in regard to Malthus's theory) has been performed, the same theories are transferred back from organic nature to history and the claim is then made that it has been proved that they have the force of eternal laws of human society.  The childishness of this procedure is obvious, and it is not worth while wasting words on it.  But if I were to dwell on this at greater length, I should have started out by showing that they are poor economists first, and only then that they are poor naturalists and philosophers."[2]
For the propaganda of his reactionary ideas Malthus invented an allegedly natural law.  "The cause to which I allude," he wrote, "is the constant tendency in all animated life to increase beyond the nourishment prepared for it."[3]

It must be clear to any progressively thinking Darwinist that, even though Darwin accepted Malthus's reactionary theory, it basically contradicts the materialist principle of his own teaching.  Darwin himself, as may be easily noted, being as he was a great naturalist, the founder of scientific biology,... could not be satisfied with the Malthusian theory....

Under the weight of the vast amount of biological facts accumulated by him, Darwin felt constrained ... radically to alter the concept of the "struggle for existence," to stretch it to the point of declaring that it was just a figure of speech.

Darwin himself, in his day, was unable to fight free of the theoretical errors of which he was guilty.  It was the classics of Marxism that revealed those errors and pointed them out.  Today there is absolutely no justification for accepting the erroneous aspects of the Darwinian theory, those based on Malthus's theory of overpopulation with the inference of a struggle presumably going on within species.  And it is all the more inadmissible to represent these erroneous aspects as the cornerstone of Darwinism....

Progressively thinking biologists, both in our country and abroad, saw in Darwinism the only right road to the further development of scientific biology....

[O]nly by further developing Darwinism and raising it to new heights was biological science capable of helping the tiller of the soil to obtain two ears of corn where only one grows today....

In the post-Darwinian period the overwhelming majority of biologists--far from further developing Darwin's teaching--did all they could to debase Darwinism, to smother its scientific foundation.  The most glaring manifestation of such debasement of Darwinism is to be found in the teachings of [August] Weismann, [Gregor] Mendel, and [Thomas Hunt] Morgan, the founders of modern reactionary genetics.


WEISMANNISM followed by Mendelism-Morganism, which made its appearance at the beginning of this century, was primarily directed against the materialist foundations of Darwin's theory of evolution.

Weismann named his conception Neo-Darwinism, but, in fact, it was a complete denial of the materialist aspects of Darwinism....

[He] denied the inheritability of acquired characters and elaborated the idea of a special hereditary substance to be sought for in the nucleus....  The chromosomes, he said, contain units, each of which "determines a definite part of the organism in its appearance and final form."....

The living body and its cells, according to Weismann, are but the container and nutritive medium of the hereditary substance; they themselves can never produce the latter, they "can never bring forth germ-cells."....

[A]ccording to Weismann, the hereditary substance produces no new forms, does not develop with the development of the individual, and is not subject to any dependent changes.....

Weismann's conception has been fully accepted and, we might say, carried further by the Mendelists-Morganists....

The purpose of the Morganists ... was to wind up their investigations by assertions which in the final analysis denied evolution in living nature, or recognized it as a process of purely quantitative changes.

[T]he controversy between the materialist and the idealist outlook in biological science has been going on throughout its history....

Socialist agriculture, the collective and State farming system, has given rise to a Soviet biological science, founded by [Ivan Vladimirovich] Michurin--a science new in principle, developing in close union with agronomic practice, as agronomic biology....

It is no exaggeration to state that Morgan's feeble metaphysical "science" concerning the nature of living bodies can stand no comparison with our effective Michurinist agro-biological science.

The new vigorous trend in biology, or more truly the new Soviet biology, agro-biology, has met with strong opposition on the part of representatives of reactionary biology abroad, as well as of some scientists in our country.

The representatives of reactionary biological science--Neo-Darwinians, Weismannists, or--which is the same--Mendelist-Morganists, uphold the so-called chromosome theory of heredity....

The conclusion drawn from this conception is that new tendencies and characteristics acquired by the organism under the influence of the conditions of its life and development are not inherited and can have no evolutionary significance....

To the Morganists, environment is only the background--indispensable, they admit--for the manifestation and operation of the various characteristics of the living body, in accordance with its heredity.  They therefore hold that qualitative variations in the heredity (nature) of living bodies are entirely independent of the environment, of the conditions of life.

The representatives of Neo-Darwinism ... hold that the efforts of investigators to regulate the heredity of organisms by changes in the conditions of life of these organisms are utterly unscientific.  They therefore call the Michurin trend in agro-biology Neo-Lamarckian, which, in their opinion, is absolutely faulty and unscientific.

Actually, it is the other way round.

First, the well-known Lamarckian propositions, which recognise the active role of external conditions in the formation of the living body and the heredity of acquired characters ... are by no means faulty.  On the contrary, they are quite true and scientific.

Secondly, the Michurin trend cannot be called either Neo-Lamarckian or Neo-Darwinian.  It is creative Soviet Darwinism, rejecting the errors of either and free from the defects of the Darwinian theory in so far as it included Malthus's erroneous ideas.

Furthermore, it cannot be denied that in the controversy that flared up between the Weismannists and Lamarckians in the beginning of the twentieth century, the Lamarckians were closer to the truth; for they defended the interests of science, whereas the Weismannists were at loggerheads with science and prone to indulge in mysticism....

We, the representatives of the Soviet Michurin trend, contend that inheritance of characters acquired by plants and animals in the process of their development is possible and necessary.  Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin mastered these possibilities in his experiments and practical activities.  The most important point is that Michurin's teaching, expounded in his works, shows every biologist the way to regulating the nature of vegetable and animal organisms, the way of altering it in a direction required for practical purposes by regulating the conditions of life, i.e., by physiological means.

A sharp controversy, which has divided biologists into two irreconcilable camps, has thus flared up over the old question:  is it possible for features and characteristics acquired by vegetable and animal organisms in the course of their life to be inherited?  In other words, whether qualitative variations of the nature of vegetable and animal organisms depend on the conditions of life which act upon the living body, upon the organism.

The Michurin teaching, which is in essence materialist and dialectical, proves by facts that such dependence does exist.

The Mendel-Morgan teaching, which in essence is metaphysical and idealist, denies the existence of such dependence, though it can cite no evidence to prove its point....


MENDELISM-MORGANISM endows the postulated mythical "hereditary substance" with an indefinite [or, random] character of variation.  Mutations, i.e., changes of the "hereditary substance," are supposed to have no definite tendency [in other words, to be completely random].  This assertion of the Morganists is logically connected with the underlying basis of Mendelism-Morganism--the principle that the hereditary substance is independent of the living body and its conditions of life.

The Morganist-Mendelists ... presume that such alterations cannot as a matter of principle be predicted....

The assertion that variation is "indefinite" raises a barrier to scientific foresight, thereby disarming practical agriculture.

[Head of the chair of Darwinism at the University of Moscow, Academician Ivan Ivanovich] Schmalhausen and others among our home-grown followers of imported Morganism claim that what they are asserting Darwin said before them....  Darwin indeed spoke of "indefinite variation."  But that was due to the limitations of selection practice in his days.  Darwin was aware of that himself and wrote that there were at that time no means of explaining the causes or nature of variation in organic beings.  That, he said, was an obscure matter.

The Mendelist-Morganists cling to everything that is obsolete and wrong in Darwin's teaching, at the same time discarding its living materialist core.

In our Socialist country, the teaching of the great transformer of nature, I.V. Michurin, has created a fundamentally new basis for directing the variability of living organisms.

Michurin himself and his followers have obtained and are obtaining directed hereditary changes in vegetable organisms literally in immense quantities.  Yet Schmalhausen still asserts that:

"The appearance of individual mutations is by all indications a case of chance phenomena.  We can neither predict nor deliberately induce this or that mutation.  So far it has been found impossible to establish any reasonable connection between the quality of mutation and definite changes in the factors of the environment."[12]
On the basis of the Morganist conception of mutations, Schmalhausen has formulated the theory of so-called "stabilizing selection"--a theory profoundly wrong ideologically and having a disarming effect upon practical activity.  According to Schmalhausen, the formation of breeds and strains proceeds--presumably inevitably--in a receding curve:  the formation of breeds and strains, stormy at the dawn of civilization, increasingly expends its "reserve of mutations" and gradually recedes.  "Both the formation of breeds of domestic animals and the formation of strains of cultivated plants," writes Schmalhausen, "proceeded with such exceptional speed mainly, apparently, because of the previously accumulated reserve of variability.  Further strictly directed selection is slower...."[13]....

As we know, Michurin, in the course of his lifetime, produced more than three hundred new strains of plants.  Many of them were produced without sexual hybridization, and all of them were the result of strictly directed selection, including systematic training.  It is an insult to progressive science to assert--in face of these facts and subsequent achievements of followers of Michurin's teaching--that strictly directed selection must progressively recede.

Schmalhausen obviously finds that Michurin's facts do not fit in with his theory of "stabilizing selection".  In his book, Factors of Evolution, he gets out of the difficulty by making no mention of these works of Michurin or of the very existence of Michurin as a scientist...  Michurin and the Michurinists ... have put the factors of evolution to work for agriculture, revealed new factors and given us a deeper understanding of the old ones.

Schmalhausen has "forgotten" the Soviet advanced scientists, the founders of Soviet biological science.  But at the same time he quotes profusely and repeatedly statements of big and small foreign and home-grown representatives of Morgan's metaphysics and leaders of reactionary biology.  That is the style of Academician Schmalhausen, who calls himself a "Darwinist"....


THE Morganist-Weismannists ... have repeatedly asserted--without grounds whatever and often in a slanderous manner--that I, as President of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences, have used my office in the interests of the Michurin trend in science, which I share, to suppress the other trend, the one opposed to Michurin's.

Unfortunately, it has so far been exactly the other way round....

Morganism-Mendelism (the chromosome theory of heredity) is to this day taught, in a number of versions, in all colleges of biology and agronomy, whereas the study of Michurin genetics has in fact not been introduced at all.  In the higher official scientific circles of biologists, too, the followers of the teaching of Michurin and [Vasily R.] Williams have often found themselves in the minority....  But the condition in the Academy has now sharply changed thanks to the interest taken in it by the Party, the Government, and Comrade [Josef] Stalin personally....

Aware of the practical worthlessness of the theoretical postulates of their metaphysical "science," and reluctant to give them up and to accept the vigorous Michurin trend, the Morganists have bent all their efforts to check the development of the Michurin trend which is inherently opposed to their pseudo-science....


CONTRARY to Mendelism-Morganism, with its assertion that the causes of variation in the nature of organisms are unknowable and its denial of the possibility of directed changes in the nature of plants and animals, I.V. Michurin's motto, was:

"We must not wait for favors from Nature; our task is to wrest them from her."
His studies and investigations led I.V. Michurin to the following important conclusion:
"It is possible, with man's intervention, to force any form of animal or plant to change more quickly and in a direction desirable to man.  There opens before man a broad field of activity most useful for him."[16]
The Michurin teaching flatly rejects the fundamental principle of Mendelism-Morganism that heredity is completely independent of the plants' or animals' conditions of life.  The Michurin teaching does not recognise the existence in the organism of a separate hereditary substance which is independent of the body.  Changes in the heredity of an organism or in the heredity of any part of its body are the result of changes in the living body itself.  And changes of the living body occur as the result of departure from the normal in the type of assimilation and dissimilation, of departure from the normal in the type of metabolism.  Changes in organisms or in their separate organs or characters may not always, or not fully, be transmitted to the offspring, but changed germs of newly generated organisms always occur only as the result of changes in the body of the parent organism as the result of direct or indirect action of the conditions of life upon the development of the organism or its separate parts, among them the sexual or vegetative germs.  Changes in heredity, acquisition of new characters and their augmentation and accumulation in successive generations are always determined by the organism's conditions of life.  Heredity changes and increases in complexity as the result of the accumulation of new characters and properties acquired by organisms in successive generations.

The organism and the conditions required for its life are an inseparable unity.  Different living bodies require different environmental conditions for their development.  By studying these requirements we come to know the qualitative features of the nature of organisms, the qualitative features of heredity.  Heredity is the property of a living body to require definite conditions for its life and development and to respond in a definite way to various conditions.

Knowledge of the natural requirements of an organism and its response to external conditions makes it possible to direct the life and development of the organism.  By regulating the conditions of life and development of plants and animals we can penetrate their nature ever more deeply and thus establish what are the means of changing it in the required direction.  Once we know the means of regulating development we can change the heredity of organisms in a definite direction....

When an organism finds in its environment the conditions suitable to its heredity, its development proceeds in the same way as it proceeded in previous generations.  When, however, organisms do not find the conditions they require and are forced to assimilate environmental conditions which, to some degree or other, do not accord with their nature, then the organisms or parts of their bodies become more or less different from the preceding generation.  If the altered section of the body is the starting point for the new generation, the latter will, to some extent or other, differ from the preceding generations in its requirements and nature....

Two kinds of qualitative changes are observed in the development of vegetable organisms.

1. Changes connected with the process of the realization of the individual cycle of development, when natural requirements, i.e., heredity, are normally met by the corresponding external conditions.  The result is a body of the same breed and heredity as the preceding generations.

2. Changes of nature, i.e., changes in heredity.  Such changes are also the result of individual development, but deviating from the normal, usual process.  Changes in heredity are as a rule the result of the organism's development under external conditions which, to some extent or other, do not correspond to the natural requirements of the given organic form.

Changes in the conditions of life bring about changes in the type of development of vegetable organisms.  A changed type of development is thus the primary cause of changes in heredity.  All organisms which cannot change in accordance with the changed conditions of life do not survive, leave no progeny....

Once we know how the heredity of an organism is built up, we can change it in a definite direction by creating definite conditions at a definite moment in the development of the organism....

According to the chromosome theory of heredity, hybrids can only be produced by sexual reproduction....

Any character may be transmitted from one strain to another by means of grafting as well as by the sexual method.

The representatives of Mendel-Morgan genetics are not only unable to obtain alterations of heredity in a definite direction, but categorically deny that it is possible to change heredity so as adequately to meet environmental conditions.  The principles of Michurin's teaching, on the other hand, tell us that we can change heredity so as fully to meet the effect of the action of conditions of life.

A case in point is the experiments to convert spring forms of bread grains into winter forms, and winter forms into still hardier ones in regions of Siberia, for example, where the winters are severe.  These experiments are not only of theoretical interest.  They are of considerable practical value for the production of frost-resistant strains.  We already have winter forms of wheat obtained from spring forms, which are not inferior, as regards frost-resistance, to the most frost-resistant strains known in practical farming.  Some are even superior.

Many experiments show that when an old-established kind of heredity is being eliminated, we do not at once get a fully established, solidified new heredity.  In the vast majority of cases what we get is an organism with a plastic nature, which I.V. Michurin called "shaken".

Vegetable organisms with a "shaken" nature are those in which their conservatism has been eliminated, and their selectivity with regard to external conditions is weakened.  Instead of conservative heredity, such plants preserve, or there appears in them, only a tendency to show some preference for certain conditions.

The nature of a vegetable organism may be shaken:

1. By grafting, i.e., by uniting the tissues of plants of different varieties;

2. By bringing external conditions to bear upon them at definite moments, when the organism undergoes this or that process of its development;

3. By cross-breeding, particularly of forms sharply differing in habitat or origin.

The best biologists, first and foremost I.V. Michurin, have devoted a great deal of attention to the practical value of vegetable organisms with shaken heredity.  Plastic vegetable forms with unestablished heredity, obtained by any of the enumerated methods, should be further bred from generation to generation in those conditions, the requirement of which, or adaptability to which, we want to induce and perpetuate in the given organisms....

By regulating external conditions, the conditions of life, of vegetable organisms, we can change strains in a definite direction and create strains with desirable heredity.

Heredity is the effect of the concentration of the action of external conditions assimilated by the organism in a series of preceding generations....

I have here propounded Michurin's teaching in most general outline.  The important point that must be stressed here is that it is absolutely necessary for all Soviet biologists to make a profound study of this teaching.  The best way for scientific workers in various departments of biology to master the theoretical depths of the Michurin teaching is to study Michurin's works, to read them over again and again, and to analyze some of them with a view to solving problems of practical importance.

Socialist agriculture stands in need of a developed, profound biological theory which will help us quickly and properly to perfect the methods of cultivating plants and obtaining plentiful and stable crop yields.  It stands in need of a profound biological theory which will help workers in agriculture to obtain in a short time the highly productive strains of plants they need to correspond to the high fertility which the collective farmers are creating on their fields.

Unity of theory and practice--that is the right highroad for Soviet science.  The Michurin teaching is the one that best embodies this unity in biological science....


UNFORTUNATELY, the Michurin teaching is not so far taught in our universities and colleges.  We Michurinists are greatly to blame for this.  But it will be no mistake to say that it is also the fault of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Higher Education.

To this day Morganism-Mendelism is taught in the majority of our universities and colleges in the chairs of genetics and selection, and in many cases also in the chairs of Darwinism, whereas the Michurin teaching, the Michurin trend in science, fostered by the Bolshevik Party and by Soviet reality, remains in the shade.

The same may be said of the position with regard to the training of young scientists.  [In] 1945, Academician [Piotr] M. Zhukovsky, who is the Chairman of the Biology Experts' Commission under the Highest Committee on Academic Degrees, wrote:

"...Theses on genetics are very rare; they represent, in fact, solitary instances.  This is to be explained by the abnormal relations, which have assumed the character of hostility, between the adherents of the chromosome theory of heredity and its opponents.  The truth of the matter is that the former somewhat fear the latter, who are very aggressive in their polemics.  It would be better to put an end to this situation.  Neither the Party nor the Government forbid the chromosome theory of heredity, and it is freely propounded in universities and colleges.  Let the controversy go on." (p. 30.)....
P.M. Zhukovsky ... wants us to have many more Mendelist-Morganist Masters and Doctors of Science who would still more extensively propagate Mendelism-Morganism in our universities and colleges....

No wonder therefore that the Commission put up all sorts of obstacles in the case of theses on genetics whose authors attempted, even if ever so timidly, to develop this or that principle of Michurin genetics.... Under the influence of the Michurin criticism of Morganism young scientists with an insight into questions of philosophy have in recent years come to realise that the Morganist views are utterly alien to the world outlook of Soviet people....  Academician P.M. Zhukovsky ... advises young biologists to pay no heed to the Michurinists' criticism of Morganism, but to go on developing the latter.

Soviet biologists are right when they are suspicious of the Morganist views and refuse to listen to the scholasticism of the chromosome theory.  They stand to gain, always and in everything, if they will ponder more often on what Michurin said of this very scholasticism.

I.V. Michurin held that Mendelism "..... contradicts the truth of nature, before which no artful structure reared out of wrongly understood phenomena can stand up."  "What I would like," he wrote, "is that the thinking unbiased observer should stop at this and personally test the truth of these conclusions; they represent a basis which we bequeath to naturalists of coming centuries and millenniums."[17]


I.V. MICHURIN laid the foundations for the science of regulating the nature of plants.  These foundations have wrought a change in the very method of thinking in dealing with problems of biology.

A knowledge of causal connections is essential for the practical work of regulating the development of cultivated plants and domestic animals.  For biological science to be in a position to render the collective farms and State farms ever more assistance in obtaining higher crop yields, higher yields of milk, etc., it must comprehend the complex biological inter-relations, the laws of the life and development of plants and animals.

A scientific handling of practical problems is the surest way to a deeper knowledge of the laws of development of living nature....

The Michurinists, in their investigations, take the Darwinian theory of evolution as their basis.  But in itself Darwin's theory is absolutely insufficient for dealing with the practical problems of Socialist agriculture.  That is why the basis of contemporary Soviet agro-biology is Darwinism transformed in the light of the teaching of Michurin and Williams and thereby converted into Soviet creative Darwinism....

Darwinism has not only been purified of its deficiencies and errors and raised to a higher level, but--in a number of its principles--has undergone a considerable change.  From a science which primarily explains the past history of the organic world, it is becoming a creative, effective means of systematically mastering living nature, making it serve practical requirements.

Our Soviet Michurinist Darwinism is a creative Darwinism which poses and solves problems of the theory of evolution in a new way, in the light of Michurin's teaching....

The time has come to take a different view of the question of the formation of species, approaching it from the angle of the transition of quantitative accumulation into qualitative distinctions.

We must realise that the formation of a species is a transition--in the course of historical process--from quantitative to qualitative variations.  Such a leap is prepared by the vital activity of organic forms themselves, as the result of quantitative accumulations of responses to the action of definite conditions of life, and that is something that can definitely be studied and directed.

Such an understanding of the formation of species, an understanding of its natural laws, places in the hands of biologists a powerful means of regulating the vital process itself and consequently also the formation of species....

Species are not an abstraction, but actually existing links in the general biological chain.

Living nature is a biological chain separated, as it were, into individual links or species.  It is therefore wrong to say that a species does not retain the constancy of its qualitative definiteness as a species for any length of time.  To insist on that would be to regard the evolution of living nature as proceeding as if along a plane, without any leaps.

I am confirmed in this opinion by the data of experiments for the conversion of hard wheat (durum) into soft (vulgare).

Let me note that all systematists admit that these are good, unquestionable, independent species.

We know that there are no true winter forms among hard wheats, and that is why in all regions with a relatively severe winter hard wheat is cultivated only as a spring, not a winter, crop.  Michurinists have mastered a good method of converting spring into winter wheat.  It has already been mentioned that many spring wheats have been experimentally converted into winter wheat.  But all of those belonged to the species of soft wheat.  When experiments were started to convert hard wheat into winter wheat it was found that after two, three or four years of autumn planting (required to turn a spring into a winter crop) durum becomes vulgare, that is to say, one species is converted into another.  Durum, i.e., a hard 28-chromosome wheat, is converted into several varieties of soft 42-chromosome wheat; nor do we, in this case, find any transitional forms between the durum and vulgare species.  The conversion of one species into another takes place by a leap.

We thus see that the formation of a new species is prepared by altered vital activity under definite new conditions in a number of generations.  In our case it is necessary to bring autumn and winter conditions to bear on hard wheat in the course of two, three or four generations.  Then it can change by a leap into soft wheat without any transitional form between the two species....

[A]fter a deep and comprehensive investigation [of the problem of intra- and inter-specific struggle and competition,] I have come to the conclusion that there exists no intra-specific struggle but mutual assistance among individuals within a species, and there does exist inter-specific struggle and competition and also mutual assistance between different species....

Soviet biologists hold that the Michurin principles are the only scientific principles.  The Weismannists and their followers, who deny the heritability of acquired characters, are not worth dwelling on at too great length.  The future belongs to Michurin.

V.I. Lenin and J.V. Stalin discovered I.V. Michurin and made his teaching the possession of the Soviet people.  By their great paternal attention to his work they saved for biology the remarkable Michurin teaching.  The Party, the Government, and J.V. Stalin personally, have taken an unflagging interest in the further development of the Michurin teaching.  There is no more honorable task for us Soviet biologists than to develop creatively Michurin's teaching and to follow in all our activities Michurin's style in the investigation of the nature of the evolution of living beings.

Our Academy must work to develop the Michurin teaching.  In this it ought to follow the personal example of interest in the activity of I.V. Michurin shown by our great teachers--V.I. Lenin and J.V. Stalin.


[EXPERIMENTS] in vegetative hybridization show incontrovertibly that heredity is a property not only of the chromosomes, but of every living thing, any cells and any particles of the body.  For heredity is determined by the specific type of metabolism.  You need but change the type of metabolism in a living body to bring about a change in heredity.

Academician P.M. Zhukovsky, as becomes a Mendelist-Morganist, cannot conceive transmission of hereditary properties without transmission of chromosomes.  He cannot conceive that the ordinary living body possesses heredity.  In his view, that is the property of the chromosomes only.  He therefore does not think it possible to obtain plant hybrids by means of grafting, he does not think it possible for plants and animals to inherit acquired characters....

[A]as the result of grafts we obtain directed, adequate alterations; we obtain plants combining the characters of the strains joined in the grafting, that is to say, we get true hybrids.  New formations are also observed....

Thus experiments in vegetative hybridization provide unmistakable proof that any particle of a living body, even the juices exchanged between scion and stock, possesses hereditary qualities.  Does this detract from the role of the chromosomes?  Not in the least.  Is heredity transmitted through the chromosomes in the sexual process?  Of course it is.

We recognise the chromosomes.  We do not deny their presence.  But we do not recognise the chromosome theory of heredity.  We do not recognise Mendelism-Morganism....

[D]ozens and hundreds of [vegetative] hybrids could be seen in our country for at least a decade now;... is it possible that Academician Zhukovsky, a botanist, does not know what is known to many, even if not all, horticulturists--namely, that in decorative horticulture a great deal has been done, and is being done, to change the heredity of plants by means of grafting?

Some of the Morganists who spoke at this session alleged that, together with the chromosome theory of heredity, Lysenko and his followers reject all the experimental facts obtained by Mendelist-Morganist science.  Such allegations are wrong.  We do not reject any experimental facts, and this holds good for the facts concerning chromosomes.

Some go so far as to assert that the Michurin trend denies the action upon plants of factors producing mutations, such as X-rays, colchicine, etc.  But how is it possible to assert anything of the sort?  Certainly, we Michurinists cannot deny the action of such factors.  We recognise the action of the conditions of life upon the living body.  Why then should we refuse to recognise the action of such potent factors as X-rays or a strong poison like colchicine, etc.?  We do not deny the action of substances which produce mutations.  But we insist that such action, which penetrates the organism not in the course of its development, not through the process of assimilation and dissimilation, can only rarely and only fortuitously lead to results useful for agriculture.  It is not the road of systematic selection, not the road of progressive science....

Weismannism-Morganism has never been, nor can it be, a science conducive to the systematic production of new forms of plants and animals.

It is significant that abroad, in the United States for example, which is the home of Morganism and where it is so highly extolled as a theory, this teaching, because of its inadequacy, has no room in practical farming.  Morganism as a theory is being developed per se, while practical farmers go their own way.

Weismannism-Morganism does not reveal the real laws of living nature; on the contrary, since it is a thoroughly idealistic teaching, it creates an absolutely false idea about natural laws....

All the so-called laws of Mendelism-Morganism are based entirely on the idea of chance.

Here are a few examples.

"Gene" mutations, according to the theory of Mendelism-Morganism, appear fortuitously.  Chromosome mutations are also fortuitous.  Due to this, the direction of the process of mutation is also fortuitous.  Proceeding from these invented fortuities, the Morganists base their experiments too on a fortuitous choice of substances that might act as mutation factors, believing that they are thereby acting on their postulated hereditary substance, which is just a figment of their imagination, and hoping to obtain fortuitously what may by chance prove to be of use....

According to this sort of "science" the development of an organism does not proceed on the basis of the selectivity of conditions of life from the environment, but again on the basis of the assimilation of substances fortuitously entering from without.

On the whole, living nature appears to the Morganists as a medley of fortuitous, isolated phenomena, without any necessary connections and subject to no laws.  Chance reigns supreme.

Unable to reveal the laws of living nature, the Morganists have to resort to the theory of probabilities, and, since they fail to grasp the concrete content of biological processes, they reduce biological science to mere statistics.  It is not for nothing that statisticians, like [Francis] Galton, [Karl] Pearson, and latterly [Ronald] Fisher and [Sewall] Wright, are also regarded as founders of Mendelism-Morganism....

Mendelism-Morganism is built entirely on chance; this "science" therefore denies the existence of necessary relationships in living nature and condemns practical workers to fruitless waiting.  There is no effectiveness in such a science.  With such a science it is impossible to plan, to work toward a definite goal; it rules out scientific foresight.

A science which fails to give practical workers a clear perspective, the power of finding their bearings and confidence that they can achieve practical aims does not deserve to be called science.

Physics and chemistry have been rid of fortuities.  That is why they have become exact sciences.

Living nature has been developing and is developing on the basis of strict laws inherent in it.  Organisms and species develop in line with natural necessities inherent in them.

By ridding our science of Mendelism-Morganism-Weismannism we will expel fortuities from biological science.  We must firmly remember that science is the enemy of chance.  That is why Michurin, who was a transformer of nature, put forward the slogan:

"We must not wait for favours [i.e., lucky chances--T.L.] from nature; our task is to wrest them from her."
Aware of the practical sterility of their theory, the Morganists do not even believe in the possibility of the existence of an effective biological theory.  Ignorant even of the ABC of the Michurinist science, they cannot to this day imagine that for the first time in the history of biology a truly effective theory has come into being--the Michurin teaching.

A great deal can be scientifically predicted on the basis of the Michurin teaching, thus freeing practical plant breeders to an ever-increasing extent from the elements of chance in their work....

"I see," wrote I.V. Michurin, "that the system of collective farming, by means of which the Communist Party is inaugurating the great work of renovating the land, will lead laboring humanity to real power over the forces of nature.  The great future of our entire natural science is in the collective farms and state farms."[21]....

The Michurin teaching is inseparable from the practical collective farm and State farm activity.  It is the best form of unity of theory and practice in agricultural science....

The strength of the Michurin teaching lies in its close association with the collective farms and State farms, in the fact that it elucidates profoundly theoretical problems by solving important practical problems of socialist agriculture....

We must effectively place science, theory, at the service of the people, so that crop yields and the productivity of stock-breeding may increase at a still more rapid pace, that labor on State farms and collective farms may be more efficient....

Progressive biological science owes it to the geniuses of mankind, Lenin and Stalin, that the teaching of I.V. Michurin has been added to the treasure-house of our knowledge, has become part of the gold fund of our science.

Long live the Michurin teaching, which shows how to transform living nature for the benefit of the Soviet people!

Long live the Party of Lenin and Stalin, which discovered Michurin for the world and created all the conditions for the progress of advanced materialist biology in our country.

Glory to the great friend and protagonist of science, our leader and teacher, Comrade Stalin!

2.  F. Engels, Letter to P.L. Lavrov.  12-17 November 1875.
3.  T.R. Malthus, Essay on the Principle of Population, Book I, Chapter I.
12. Acad. I.I. Schmalhausen, Factors of Evolution (Russian).  Acad. of Sciences the U.S.S.R., 1946, p. 68.
13. Ibid., pp. 214-215.
16. I.V. Michurin, Works, Vol. IV, p. 72 (Russian).
17. I.V. Michurin, Works, Vol. III, p. 308-309 (Russian).
21. I.V. Michurin, Works, Vol. I, p. 477 (Russian).
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