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Modificazione genetica e furti di semi

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Quattrocento anni fa John Rolfe utilizzò i semi di tabacco che riuscì in qualche modo a procurarsi dalle Indie occidentali per sviluppare la prima attività redditizia di export della Virginia, mettendo a rischio il commercio di tabacco delle colonie caraibiche della Spagna. Più di 200 anni dopo, un altro inglese, Henry Wickham, portò i semi di pianta del caucciù dal Brasile all’Asia – attraverso una grande istituzione colonialista, i Royal Botanic Gardens di Londra – così preparando il terreno alla possibile scomparsa del boom del caucciù della Foresta Amazzonica.

In un’epoca in cui mancava la regolamentazione sulle esportazioni di piante, gli bastò riempire una valigetta di semi per danneggiare vite umane e persino intere economie. Grazie ai progressi sul fronte della genetica, ora potrebbe bastare anche meno.

Negli ultimi decenni sono stati fatti grandi passi avanti nel regolamentare la deliberata circolazione di materiale genetico di animali, piante e di altri esseri viventi oltre i confini. In particolare, la Convenzione Onu sulla diversità biologica del 1992 ha contribuito a salvaguardare i diritti di chi fornisce risorse genetiche – come (idealmente) i contadini e le popolazioni indigene che hanno protetto e nutrito geni preziosi – onorando la sovranità nazionale rispetto alla biodiversità.

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