Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Penyuntingan Genetik dan Pencurian Benih

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Empat ratus tahun yang lalu, John Rolfe menggunakan benih tembakau yang dicuri dari West Indies untuk mengembangkan ekspor pertama yang menghasilkan laba untuk Virginia, merugikan perdagangan tembakau koloni Spanyol di Karibia. Lebih dari 200 tahun kemudian, orang Inggris lainnya, Henry Wickham, mengambil benih pohon penghasil karet dari Brazil dan membawanya ke Asia – melalui institusi kolonial besar yaitu London’s Royal Botanic Gardens – yang mengakhiri kemajuan industri karet di Amazon.     

Di masa dimana tidak ada peraturan ekspor tanaman, satu koper penuh benih dapat menghancurkan penghidupan dan bahkan seluruh perekonomian. Berkat kemajuan ilmu genetik, hal ini akan lebih mudah dilakukan dalam waktu dekat.

Yang pasti, dalam beberapa dekade terakhir, langkah besar telah diambil untuk mengatur pergerakan ke luar batas negara yang disengaja dari materi genetik hewan, tanaman, dan makhluk hidup lainnya. Konvensi PBB mengenai Keanekaragaman Hayati pada tahun 1992, khususnya, telah membantu menjaga hak-hak penyedia sumber genetik – seperti (idealnya) petani dan masyarakat adat yang telah melindungi dan memelihara genetik yang berharga – dengan memasukan biodiversitas kedalam kedaulatan nasional.        

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