RAW HONEY IS THE FOOD OF THE GODS
A leading Russian biologist thinks he has solved the age-old mystery of ambrosia.
By EDGAR SNOW, exclusive in Victoria to THE ARGUS.
NICOLAI VASILEVICH TSIT-SIN, dark, muscular, middle- weight, aged 46, is one of the Russian's leading biologists. In the worst days of the crisis the SovietFix this text Government never lowered the subsidy to his department of 15 million gold rubles a year. He is an expert in the habits of the hormone-the elixir of life, common to both animal and vegetable organisms.
His real work is the remarriage of plants and trees in a kind of reverse order of evolution in attempts to recover a lot of the best qualities of both, which somehow got lost in the shuffle.
Among his experimental exhibits are trees that grow tomatoes, beans, lentils, and peas, and he has proved to his satisfaction that apples, plums, and other fruits can be grown on vines and plants. His biggest achievement, from the layman's point of view, is the successful cross- ing of wild grass with wheat, result- ing in a grain which, he believes, may ultimately quadruple the farmer's crop.
It took Tsitsin 10 years to produce an embryo with all the desired properties of grass, including perennial- ism. Now for four years he has been conducting specific experimentation. Toward the end of 1944 he at last got what he wanted. Five new varieties of wheat are now being cultivated in experimental farms.
ONE NEW SEED (experiment No.
22,850) is never prostrated under any conditions, is immune to all fungus diseases, and grows a fine, rich, barrel-shaped grain. Its last yield was on the basis of 170 bushels to the hectare around Moscow, where normal harvests are from 28 to 30 bushels.
Even more Interesting than Tsltsin's claims to having discovered a perennial wheat are his experiments on longevity. "When I was a small boy," said the scientist, "I had a hard time staying alive. But I came to the conclusion that, however hard life may be, it's better than being dead. I've been trying ever since to make it last longer. There are over 200 people living in the Soviet Union who claim to be over 100 years old. We sent out letters asking them to answer three questions: What was their age; how had they earned their living; what had been their principal food. We got 150 replies. We made some very interesting discoveries.
"A large number of them were bee- keepers. But all of them, without exception, said that their principal food had always been honey. We investigated further and found that in each case it was not really honey that these people ate but the waste matter in the bottom of the bee- hive.
"THEY were poor, so they sold all the pure honey in the market, and kept only the dirty residue for themselves. They learned to like it. We made further Investigations, and found that a large part of this honey scrap was not honey at all, but almost pure pollen. When a bee stands drinking his fill in a flower he collects a lot of pollen on his legs and body. Then, when he comes back to the honeycomb, he scrapes this raw matter off his leg« while he is making his normal deposit of honey. It collects at the bottom of the hive, mixed with dirt and foreign matter."
This discovery was the starting point of a whole series of experiments at Tsitsin's headquarters, near Moscow. "You remember how in the myths of ancient Greece we are told about the ambrosia that was the food of the gods who sat on top of Mount Olympus?" The scientist grinned. "They never told us what that was. Well, we may have discovered it. At anv rate, I am making a guinea pig of myself. I am going on a honey-scrap diet for two years to see, what happens."