De-extinction is the process of generating an organism that is either an extinct species or resembles an extinct species. It is also known as resurrection biology or species revivalism. Although, cloning is the most widespread method of achieving the result, genome editing and selective breeding have also been considered. It has been often seen that this method is applied to endangered species in the hopes to boost their population. Cloning is the unanimous decision when it comes to generating a replica of the extinct or endangered species. However, the process of de-extinction deals with the lack of technological advancements for cloning as well as the mountain of ethical questions associated with it.
Ronald Sandler, a professor of Philosophy at the Northeastern University and author of the new book The Ethics of Species, took a close look on the merits and demerits of this “mind-blowing idea” and the principles of ethics surrounding it. De-extinction will not only generate extinct species like the passenger pigeon or the woolly mammoth, but it will also help people’s claim to “help make up for the wrong of the extinction” as Sandler mentioned. This scientific process will also evaluate ways to remove any anomalies in the extinct species that have been mentioned in the history of these species. In other words, de-extinction is capable of creating the perfect species.
While the pros of de-extinction are clear in Sandler’s book, the book also emphasises the notion that this process will allow human beings to throw caution to the wind and exploit nature. One of the primary reasons why animals have gone extinct in modern times is because humans have exploited them. Critics suggest that the idea of bringing back species could cause even more harm to them and our planet, even if they are some biome balancing benefits that could begin to appear over time. The idea of de-extinction to some is simple science, but to others, this practice is one that is comparable to playing God. The unforeseen consequences that could happen when animals like the woolly mammoth come back could put our planet on the brink of turmoil. It may even impact how each of us approaches life.
On this note of cons in the process, Sandler said, “However, another thing that I emphasise in the book is that on a clear understanding of the value of species, it is much better to prevent species from becoming threatened in the first place than it is to try to save them (or bring them back) after they are imperilled. In addition, it is always preferable to conserve species in their co-evolved ecological context. For these reasons, de-extinction is not a particularly well-justified conservation strategy in most cases, and the technologies and techniques involved are likely to have only a very small role in conservation efforts.”
Therefore,it would be an amazing scientific expedition if we can tread the path of de-extinction, it is important to keep our perspective sweeping over all kinds of environmental changes, effect, and the conservation of species.