Attilio Scienza is a full professor at the University of Milan where he teaches courses on genetic improvements to the vine in the Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences; he also teaches Viticulture in the Master’s program of the University of Turin in Asti. He has been the lead for many national research projects in the field of physiology, agricultural techniques, and vine genetics.
He is the author of over 350 publications on vine and viticulture in national and international journals, conference proceedings, text books, and monograph. He also authored 23 books in Italian and English on cultural topics related to wine. From 1985 to 1991, he was the Director of the Istituto Agrario di S. Michele all’Adige (the research and training institute part of the Edmund Mach Foundation). He is a member of the Accademia Italiana della Vite e del Vino and of the Accademia dei Georgofili.
Throughout his long career, he has been awarded numerous awards for his research and writing, including the AEI Prize for scientific research in 1991, the international Premio Morsiani in 2006, and the OIV Prize in viticulture for the best scientific book on vine topics and viticulture in 2003, 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2012. Since June 2018, Scienza collaborates with Vinitaly International as the Chief Scientist of the Vinitaly International Academy.
Science and prejudice: implications on viticulture
We like to imagine science free from discrimination, impartial, neutral. In fact, like any other human activity, it never operates in a political vacuum: even science has its prejudices. The eugenics born in the nineteenth century, which postulates the existence of “superior races” and “inferior races” and which even inspires the policy of euthanasia of the “less fit” promoted by Nazism, is an eloquent example of this. Similarly, the hostility towards American vines is not the result of scientific findings based on objective evidence, but of deductions from a time when the wine of these vines was a witness of poverty and hunger.
The session will explore the common origin of American species and European vine, which is currently very divisive in the scientific community. Reflecting on the elements supporting the main positions in this regard, Prof. Scienza will show how, from a scientific point of view, the ostracism towards the vines created by the crossbreeding of American and European varieties is not only not justified, but also prevents the resolution of important problems linked to wine production.