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Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative Report 23:86-86 (article 29) 2000

Proceedings of the 1st International Oil Pumpkin Conference

9-13 August 1999

Styria & Lower Austria

Preface

Extracting oil from pumpkin seed is a century-old tradition centered in Styria, in the south-eastern part of Austria. Some 130 years ago, a recessive mutation occurred which prevented the coat of the pumpkin seed from lignifying. Generations of people who had spent their winter evenings removing the tough hulls from the seeds realized the benefit of this mutation. Subsequent selection of the green-seeded plants, homozygous for the mutation, led to the establishment of the ecotype Cucurbita pepo var. styriaca.

Over the centuries, the Styrians became aware of the healing qualities of pumpkin seeds and their oil and gave it an honored place in their folk medicine. Today, however, some of the curative effects - especially for prostate ailments and bladder irritations - have been scientifically proven, producing a growing market demand for pumpkin seed oil and other products made from pumpkin seed extract.

The prospect of combining age-old traditions with modern technologies for the benefit of growers and consumers motivated the organization of the "First International Oil-Pumpkin Conference," which was held in Austria. It attracted people from countries like Israel, Russia and even New Zealand, and provided an excellent platform for discussing many aspects of the oil-seed pumpkin, such as history, breeding experiences, the virus question, technical aspects of pressing, introduction to new countries or regions, and marketing.

The proceedings of the conference present the essence of these four days of presentations, discussions, and information exchange in August 1999, held in different places in Austria. It forged a small community of people now dedicated to the "Styrian oil-seed pumpkin" who plan to meet again in 2003 to re-evaluate the problems, solutions, and new problems. We hope that reading these contributions will awaken interest and encourage discussion for the benefit of a natural product, which is tasty, healthy and produced in harmony with nature. For comments and further contributions we invite you to visit the website of the conference: http://www.cucurbit.org/cukeoil.html

Penny Lichtenecker and Tamas Lelley
March 2000, Vienna

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