Heredity and Its Variability — T.D. Lysenko




T.D. Lysenko’s book Heredity and Its Variability further expands on Michurinist biology’s position towards heredity. Lysenko says: “By heredity we mean 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.” What the author means, in plain, is that species evolve in accordance with correct, scientific and definite conditions which are fostered for their development. In this way, for example, Lysenko was able to convert spring wheat into winter wheat via the process of vernalization, exposing the strain to a specific temperature to alter its properties and that of its progeny. Finding those appropriate conditions, the book further reads, can thus be considered a science, tantamount to studying heredity itself. He asserts that, although idealist biologists consider an organism to be a set of innate properties such as a number of chromosomes, therefore claiming that Lysenko’s converted winter wheat was in fact still spring wheat, materialists necessarily consider organisms to be constituted by their characteristics and properties, with their productive uses. Michurinist biology, in its time, saw itself as defining a new heredity which would keep the improvement of the natural and social environment as the apple of the biologist’s eye, and not an abstract ivory tower study of science.