This is easily the best discussion I've seen on this forum yet. Talk about fired up...
I'd like to take the chance to applaude bugweed for such a elegantly simple concept, and noah for giving us a working example that we can look at for inspiration, and Tamlin for just firing everyone up.
I think that there have been many great points brought up in this thread:
1) That the ICPS actually IS in aware of and in the process of writing and proposing a plan that will preserve the diversity of this threatened genus.
2) Any organized effort to preserve Sarrs outside the accreditted scientific community will not recieve ANY formal recognition, legal exemptions, non-profit status, federal funding, or even really any respect.
3) There are informal routes we can pursue if our goal is simply preserving the diversity of the genus that needn't complicated.
4) There are people among us who are willing to pursue these routes.
I think that it should be pointed out that we are afforded the opportunity take many different approaches to achieve the same goal, and the more we take the more likely one (or more) of them is to succeed.
This is a digression, but...The reason that the scientific community is closed to outside participation is because the average laymen has neither the training in, nor the circumstances to ensure, scientific certainty. The scientific community is eternally battling what is referred to as "voodoo science." That is, people who are passing off bad science as verifiable. For examples think about people marketing perpetual motion machines, anit-gravity vehicles, and deionized water schemes. These are the really nutty ones, but think about how every scientific study is scrutinized and is forced to defend themselves against critics. The scientific community is forced to guard itself against this scrutiny by every means possible, which includes denying many well intended participants from starting splinter groups and projects when they aren't completely versed in the scientific method and supported by scientists. It's not really their fault that they have been forced to be so defensive when there are so many people gunning for them. It seems like anyone not designing a better bullet or bomber these days is forced to fight for every dollar they can get, and preserving scientific integrity is part of that their defence.
So I propose that we can both support the ICPS in their efforts while pursuing a less formal project of our own. I think that most people here are more interested in preserving the genus than in getting credit for it. The point was made that there already exists a collection of Sarrs in private collections that represents every known specie and variety. We just don't know who has what, and we oftentimes cannot verify the authenticity of our varieties with scientific certainty. I say, "So what?" That all of these plants are protected and accounted for with reasonable certainty is good enough for me. This is, of coarse, backed by the knowledge that there are ALSO people working on catologing and preserving with scientific certainty everything that they can. Between the two I find a very happy medium.
It is my opinion that we should move forward with a more informal seed sharing project. For the time being we should establish what all we want to preserve. We should caution against attempting to preserve every population of every specie and form. That would be far too redundant as well as lunacy to try to coordinate (I think).
I think this thread is a good place to try to get a good idea of exactly what we want to accomplish and what we can expect to accomplish. I think that it is very possible to establish a national database and seed sharing plan. I don't think that it's necessary to collect anything from the wild; we already have everything in cultivation, we just need to find out who has it and is willing to share it.
I'm really interested in this project, it's quite similar to something I was working on on my own before I was aware that it was a topic other people were interested in. Please email me privately if you want to talk to me directly about it, but I think everyone else would benefit from any comments anyone has on the subject.
Jason (the monkey) Wills