Piante, merci ed eserciti

L’Hymenoscyphus fraxineus è un patogeno che negli anni ha decimato le foreste di frassini in Inghilterra provocando una devastante fitopatia nota come “Ash Dieback”. Si tratta di un fungo che proviene dall’Asia, dove però non arreca nessun tipo di danno agli alberi del medesimo genere, forse abituati a conviverci da millenni. Due ecosistemi che si incontrano, che si scontrano, creano biologie ferali di Anna Tsing. Come per altre malattie infettive vi è un chiaro legame tra globalizzazione e patogeni. Si può dire che questo sia un processo iniziato già da tempo, almeno dalla fine del 19° secolo. Secondo alcuni (Williamson 2018) iniziato con l’invenzione del propulsore ad elica, che permise di trasportare velocemente via nave piante vive (e patogeni vivi) attraverso i continenti, o facilitato dell’invenzione della “Wardian Case” (McCook 2016), una mini-serra portatile che permise di trasportare, e soprattutto conservare, le piante vive provenienti dalle colonie tropicali. Ma la grande accelerazione degli ultimi 20-30 anni non ha però precedenti. Non possiamo infatti comparare il volume degli scambi di piante e patogeni di fine 800 a quelli avvenuti in epoca neo-liberale (Potter and Urquhart 2017). E basta farsi un giro in quelle fitte giungle messe alla fine del percorso che ogni Ikea di ogni luogo fa fare ai propri clienti.

C’è un evidente legame storico tra patogeni, colonialismo e neo-liberismo; tra le monocolture del sud globale e le piante di Ficus benjamina dei nostri soggiorni. “Così come altre fitopatie infettive, l’Ash Dieback è una conseguenza della globalizzazione”, scrive Arianne Shahvisi in questo articolo per la London Review of Books. Viene da pensare alla famosa frase dell’economista liberale Claude Frederic Bastiat “Dove non passano le merci, passano gli eserciti”. Ma ora che le merci son passate, gli eserciti pare si siano solo rimpiccioliti.

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Mccook, Stuart. 2016. “Squares of Tropic Summer. The Wardian Case, Victorian Horticulture, and the Logistics of Global Plant Transfers, 1770–1910″ in “Global Scientific Practice in an Age of Revolutions, 1750-1850”, pp. 199–215., doi:10.2307/j.ctt1g2kmkh.16

Potter, Clive and Urquhart, Julie. 2017. “Tree disease and pest epidemics in the Anthropocene: A review of the drivers, impacts and policy responses in the UK”. Forest Policy and Economics, 79. pp. 61-68. doi:10.1016/j.forpol.2016.06.024

Williamson, Tom, et al. 2018. “English Tree Populations: Economics, Agency and the Problem of the ‘Natural.’” The Human Dimensions of Forest and Tree Health, 2018, pp. 21–45., doi:10.1007/978-3-319-76956-1_2.

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