Scientist claims it is possible to reverse extinction

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MARCH 1, 2013

The statement makes many Jurassic Park fans rub their hands. According to scientist Stewart Brand, colleagues are attempting to reassemble the genome of extinct animals and other beings in order bring them back to life.

While speaking at a TED conference in Sausalito, California, Brand said that scientists are that much close to developing a process which would allow humans to generate enough material to recreate animals that no longer live on Earth.According to the creator of the Whole Earth Catalog, “de-extinction” would be a fantastic tool to bring back organisms and complete ecosystems that disappeared through time.

“Biotechnology is about to liberate conservation, at least a part of conservation, in a pretty spectacular way,” said Brand. He fancies himself as a “cheerleader” who encourages researchers to take on the type of challenges he spoke about at TED. He said scientists are working on a way to use DNA to re-create the passenger pigeon, a bird that became extinct in 1914.

The passenger pigeon is considered a keystone species because it aided the survival of the buffalo. Researchers believe it is possible to change the genetic code of a type of bird known as the band-tailed pigeon, to then re-engineer the passenger pigeon.

“The result won’t be perfect, but it should be perfect enough because nature doesn’t do perfect either,” he added.

So far, attempts to bring back ancient creatures have failed. Back in 2010, an extinct variety of mountain goat created in a lab, died after just a few minutes due to lung defects, reports the Marine Independent Journal. Mr. Brand took his opportunity to remind the audience that, according to him, humans are to blame for the extinction of many species.

“Humans have made a huge hole in nature in the last 10,000 years,” Brand said. “We have the ability now, and maybe the moral obligation, to repair some of the damage,” he said. However, Mr. Brand did not explain much about the impact that these experiments would have in today’s environment, or detailed what are the dangers of recreating ancient organisms.

If we take into account modern history, it is clear that scientists have perfected the ability to reproduce bacteria, viruses and other pathogens mainly for the sake of warfare. In many occasions, these pathogens have escaped –accidentally or not– high security labs causing panic on populations exposed to them. The use of recreated organisms, chemical and biological agents to subdue populations has also been a reality in the 20th and 21st centuries and genetically modified organisms are already poisoning the planet.

Perhaps Mr. Brand should point out very clearly who are humans he refers to when blaming people for environmental damage. Also, as we learned from Jurassic Park, no one enjoys having a tyrannosaur Rex roaming their neighborhoods.

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About Luis Miranda
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