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Edição genética e roubo de sementes

AUSTIN, TEXAS - Há quatrocentos anos, John Rolfe utilizou sementes de tabaco surripiadas às Índias Ocidentais para desenvolver a primeira exportação rentável da Virginia, comprometendo o comércio de tabaco das colónias espanholas das Caraíbas. Mais de 200 anos mais tarde, outro britânico, Henry Wickham, levou sementes de uma árvore da borracha do Brasil para a Ásia — através da grande instituição colonialista, Royal Botanic Gardens de Londres — lançando, assim, as bases para a eventual extinção do boom da borracha amazónica.

Numa época em que a exportação de plantas não era regulamentada, bastou uma mala cheia de sementes para comprometer os meios de subsistência e até mesmo economias inteiras. Graças aos avanços da genética, em breve poderá ser necessário muito menos.

Na verdade, ao longo das últimas décadas, foram realizados progressos consideráveis no que diz respeito ao movimento transfronteiriço deliberado de material genético de animais, plantas e outros seres vivos. A Convenção das Nações Unidas sobre Diversidade Biológica de 1992 contribuiu, nomeadamente, para salvaguardar os direitos dos fornecedores de recursos genéticos — tais como (idealmente) os agricultores e os povos indígenas que protegeram e nutriram genes valiosos — ao consagrar a soberania nacional sobre a biodiversidade.

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