Scientists are currently working on three different approaches to restore lost plants and animals. In cloning, scientists use genetic material from the extinct species to create an exact modern copy.
Within 15 years, scientists may be able to revive some recently extinct species, like the dodo or the passenger pigeon. It’s not Jurassic Park, but is it a good idea?
In the April 5 issue of Science, Stanford University law Professor Hank Greely identifies the ethical landmines of this new concept of de-extinction.
“I view this piece as the first framing of the issues,” said Greely, director of the Stanford Center for Law and the Biosciences. “I don’t think it’s the end of the story, rather I think it’s the start of a discussion about how we should deal with de-extinction.”
Greely lays out potential benefits of de-extinction, from creating new scientific knowledge to restoring lost ecosystems. But the biggest benefit, Greely believes, is the “wonder” factor.
“It would certainly be cool to see a living saber-toothed cat,” Greely said. “Wonder may not seem like a substantive benefit, but a lot of science—such as the Mars rover—is done because of it.”