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It is not a question of GMOs but of civilization

It is not a question of GMOs but of civilization

With the publication in the GURI of the text of the decree-law of 14 April 2023, n. 39 coordinated with the conversion law of 13 June 2023, n. 68 containing: “Urgent provisions for the fight against water scarcity and for the strengthening and adaptation of water infrastructures.”, the Italian state, in article 9 bis, dictates the urgent provisions on agricultural genetics.
This allows “the authorization for the deliberate release into the environment of organisms produced with genomic editing techniques by means of sito-directed mutagenesis or cisgenesis for experimental and scientific purposes…”.
To understand what we are talking about, which is always very delicate when one enters scientifically not within everyone’s reach, genome editing involves modifying the DNA of living organisms such as plants, animals and humans.
Recall that farmers have been altering plant genes for years to develop new and better varieties, but recent technological advances have made it possible to edit an organism’s genome faster, more accurately and, according to proponents of this technology, cheaper. market.
Regardless of what are the technological tools to carry out this “rewriting” of DNA, the question must be addressed not so much from a scientific and therefore technological point of view but from an ethical and social one.
We recall that agriculture exists as an activity closely related to human activities, to the cultures generated by this experience, to the links between it and the evolution of knowledge, to the mutuality between the evolution of agricultural systems and social systems.
Agriculture is the matrix of that social ecology which is the basis of civilizations, so much so that in 1996, the expression of Food Sovereignty was coined by the members of Via Campesina, subsequently adopted by various international organizations, including the World Bank and the Unite.
Among other things, in 2007, the Nyéléni Declaration provided a definition that was adopted by eighty countries; in 2011 it was further refined by the European states. As of 2020, at least seven countries have integrated food sovereignty into their constitutions and legislation.
We recall that food sovereignty is a concept that refers to the right of peoples and communities to have full control over their food system. It is an alternative and contrasting vision with the dominant approach of industrial agriculture and global food trade.
Well, as mentioned, beyond the strictly scientific and therefore technological aspects, the possibility of shifting genetic interaction from the knowledge of rural social systems to the owners of very expensive and complex technologies creates a problem that goes far beyond the simple aspect: whether or not it is correct to manipulate DNA unnaturally, this is also a question that needs to be analyzed in its entirety.
The question is that this process abruptly interrupts an anthropological process that has been going on for at least 10,000 years.
That path which has allowed, with gradualness and consequent deepening, the development and creation of an animal and vegetable richness of incredible breeds and varieties.
That genetic variability that has made it possible to adapt production and production arrangements to individual ecosystems and, often, to unique micro-ecosystems and microclimates.
That process that has generated agricultural knowledge, from which cultures, arts, civilizations, etc. are derived; other sociological biodiversity that represent the real wealth and social stability of our planet.
This richness has also allowed the sharing of knowledge, its relationships with the surrounding ecosystem and the creation of shared cultures and experiences.
Genome editing, like any other form of intervention detached from these mechanisms, represent processes detached from this social ecology, activating and promoting monopolistic systems in the hands of a few financially strong and dominant entities in the social and anthropological science of the world.

In this regard, let us remember that plants, animals and any living being are never an isolated unit in the ecosystem; its life is the result of multiple interactions and exchanges of information with equally multiple organisms.
A function of resistance towards a plant disease, or towards a state of stress, are the result of innumerable exchanges of information, and these processes are the basis of the gradual birth of species, varieties and breeds.
To put it very simply, it is the DNAs that interact with each other and not simple portions that give unambiguous and simplistic answers.
The great wealth of Italian and world agricultural biodiversity is only the result of a slow and gradual genetic rearrangement, the result of very long periods and thermodynamic feedback from natural and agricultural ecosystems.
All this has generated, in a related way, civilizations, cultures, knowledge, human values.
As usual, those who oppose this “innovation” are seen as retrograde or, worse, as ignorant.
The question is very different: it is a vision of Life.
This vision of Life is not abstract philosophy; it is a teaching that comes to us from ecosystems and their model of evolution.
In fact, one of the main mechanisms driving the evolution of ecosystems is natural selection, which is the process by which organisms best adapted to their environment are more likely to survive and reproduce, passing on their adaptive traits to the next generation.
Besides natural selection, other mechanisms affecting ecosystem evolution include genetic drift, migration and mutation. Genetic drift occurs when allele frequencies vary randomly in populations over time, especially in small populations. Migration, on the other hand, leads to the introgression of new genes into a population through the movement of individuals from one area to another. Mutation is the random process by which new genetic variants (mutations) are formed in the DNA of organisms.
It is clear that ecosystems are made up of a complex network of interactions between living organisms and their physical environment. The evolution of ecosystems can also be influenced by abiotic factors, such as climate change, resource availability and the geology of the area. These factors can affect the survival and reproductive capacity of organisms, creating selective pressures that shape ecosystem evolution over time.
In summary, ecosystem evolution is driven by a combination of natural selection, genetic drift, migration, mutation, and complex interactions between organisms and the environment. These mechanisms work together to shape the adaptation and diversity of organisms within ecosystems over time.
This complex evolutionary process includes the human presence to such an extent that it can be said that without complex social systems there can be no agricultural complexity.
Today unfortunately we are all paying for the simplification of cropping systems, boasted with the green revolution of the 60s of the last century as the necessary progress to feed the world.
The results are now known to all:
– Increase in poverty of peoples;
– Drying out of agricultural soils;
– Drastic reduction of natural and agricultural biodiversity;
– Exponential increase of toxic residues in foods;
– Climate change and environmental disasters.
All within just half a century, which in the span of human history is like a second in a person’s life.
We have fallen ill with technology without understanding that the greatest technology, with its ethical codes, is contained in Nature and every time we disavow it we cut the base of the trunk of civilization with an ax

Guido Bissanti

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