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Edición genética y robo de semillas

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Hace 400 años, John Rolfe utilizó semillas de tabaco hurtadas en el Caribe para desarrollar la primera exportación rentable de Virginia, minando el comercio de tabaco de las colonias caribeñas de España. Más de 200 años después, otro británico, Henry Wickham, llevó semillas de un árbol de caucho de Brasil a Asia -a través del Real Jardín Botánico de Londres, la gran institución colonialista-, preparando así el camino para la futura extinción del boom del caucho en el Amazonas.

En la época de la exportación libre de plantas, todo lo que hizo falta fue una maleta llena de semillas para arruinar subsistencias, e incluso economías enteras. Gracias a los avances en el campo de la genética, quizá pronto haga falta menos.

Sin duda, en las últimas décadas, se han hecho grandes avances en cuanto a regular el movimiento transfronterizo deliberado de material genético de animales, plantas y otros seres vivos. La Convención de las Naciones Unidas sobre Diversidad Biológica de 1992, en particular, ha ayudado a salvaguardar los derechos de los proveedores de recursos genéticos -como (idealmente) los agricultores y las poblaciones indígenas que han protegido y cultivado genes valiosos- reconociendo la soberanía nacional sobre la biodiversidad.

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