Scientists just might revive the woolly mammoth…by splicing genes from ancient mammoths into Asian elephant DNA…But here’s a sad irony to ponder: What if that dream came at the expense of today’s Asian and African elephants, whose numbers are quickly dwindling because of habitat loss and poaching?
Recently, Joseph Bennett, an assistant professor and conservation researcher at Carleton University, confronted a new question: If molecular biologists can potentially reconstruct extinct species, such as the woolly mammoth, should society devote its limited resources to reversing past wrongs, or on preventing future extinctions?
“If you have the millions of dollars it would take to resurrect a species and choose to do that, you are making an ethical decision to bring one species back and let several others go extinct,” Dr. Bennett said. “It would be one step forward, and three to eight steps back.”
[Ben Novak, the lead researcher for the nonprofit Revive & Restore argues that] funding for de-extinction and conservation is a zero-sum game, noting that all of the funding for Revive & Rescue’s biotechnologies comes from private donors or institutional grants outside the realm of conservation efforts.
[The study can be found here.]
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