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HindustanTimes Wed,23 Apr 2014
Having the dead alive
PP Wangchuk
April 29, 2013
First Published: 23:42 IST(29/4/2013)
Last Updated: 23:44 IST(29/4/2013)

Will it be ethical to recreate species gone extinct long ago? A recent development in Australia, in which scientists developed the embryos of the extinct gastric brooding frog, has yet again brought the ethical issue to the fore. The question raised is: If you recreate extinct animals today, what bars you from recreating human beings tomorrow?

In 2003, a team of Spanish and French scientists had recreated the Pyrenean ibex which had gone extinct three years earlier. True, the resurrection, a clone of the last living Pyrenean ibex, was short-lived as the animal could not adjust itself for long to its surroundings.

But the stark reality now is that, with animals recreated, a day will come when there will be attempts to bring alive our long-dead dear ones. How is it possible? Very simple: By keeping the living cells of the dead frozen for a future “resurrection”!

Once that is done, the ethical issue too will die. And then we will see human beings dead long ago resurrected and be once again among us alive and walking and talking. One finds this kind of scenario quite fascinating, but the consequences could be both positive as well as negative.

Time magazine recently featured the pros and cons of such a future scenario. It said, “Although there are undeniable benefits in reviving a species in theory, there is no way of knowing whether, say, a passenger pigeon would be able to resume its old ecological niche or if it might even crowd out the extinct species.

And environmentalists rightly worry that a reliance on de-extinction might erode support for the hard work of traditional conservation. Why worry about preserving wildlife habitat or fighting poaching if we know scientists can just reverse our mistakes?”


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