9000年間の品種改良がトウモロコシ、モモ、スイカにもたらしたもの

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遺伝子組み換え食品の歴史を見る 


人類は農業というものを始めて以来、より大きな作物、より良い味を求めて遺伝子組み換え、すなわち品種改良をずっと続けてきた。しかしその推移を想像するのはなかなか難しいことだ。

 

しかしオーストラリアの化学教師のジェームズ・ケネディーは9000年間の品種改良がもたらしたものを見事に可視化することに成功したというのだ。それでは彼が作ったすばらしいインフォグラフィックデザインを見ていってみよう。

 

 

品種改良によるトウモロコシの進化


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科学者たちはトウモロコシが元々どこから来たのか長い間わからないでいた。どう考えても自然界で育つようなものではないからだ。遺伝学者、植物学者、考古学者が総力を結集させてそのでどころを突き止めたのはつい最近のことだ。ブタモロコシというトウモロコシの一種のわずか1.9センチたらずしかないひょろひょろとしたヒゲのようなものから現在のトウモロコシの姿に9000年かけて変わったというのだ。先祖の人たちが世代を超えてずっと品種改良してくれた結果今のトウモロコシがあるのかと思うとありがたいと思わざるを得ない。

 

品種改良によるスイカの進化


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南アフリカ原産のスイカは9000年前、わずか5センチのものすごく苦くてハンマーで叩かないと開けられないような代物だった。1950年代、60年代にアメリカの作物学者が病気に強く、分厚い皮を持つ品種の開発に成功したことから世界中で育てられるようになった。現在もなお品種改良は続いており、種なしスイカを始めとしてスイカはさらに大きく、甘く、食べやすくなっていくのだろう。

 

品種改良によるモモの進化


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モモの原産は中国で、さくらんぼのような36パーセントが種で64パーセントが実の甘くてすっぱくてちょっと塩辛いものだった。それが6000年の品種改良の末、現在の甘くておいしいモモができたというのだ。現在のモモは種はわずか10パーセントで90パーセントが食べられるというすばらしい果物に仕上がっている。

 

現在当たり前のように食べているほぼすべての農作物が先人の苦労の上に作られていると思うと深淵な気持ちになってしまう。今ある果物、野菜は本当にすばらしいものばかりだ。

 

 

 

 

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