Cesagen Seminar: Dr. Dita Wickins-Drazilova on Animal cloning to address species extinction
SpeakersDr Dita Wickins-Drazilova, University of Warwick
VenueMeeting room, 10 Museum Place
Resurrecting extinct mammals including Neanderthals – Ethical and public policy considerations
As researchers seem to be close to cloning some species of long-extinct mammals, it is necessary to understand the most recent scientific developments to be able to assess the ethical and policy implications. In the last decade, dead mammals have been successfully cloned, leading to the return of the Pyrenean ibex from recent extinction. Genome sequencing of Pleistocene mammals has been successful, and some scientists claim that mammoths and Neanderthals could be brought back to life in next 10 or 20 years. In this paper I will ask: what are the main ethical and policy implications of scientific plans to resurrect extinct species of mammals? One approach to this question could be benefit/risk analysis of such endeavour. There are various benefits, such as environmental restoration of ecosystems or public education. However, risks include welfare issues or risks to humans and other species such as transfer of zoonoses or pathogens. However, these risks and benefits are difficult to assess and balance. A better line of argumentation is based on the concept of duties and responsibilities, and is based on the premise that we have moral duties to protect the welfare of all sentient creatures, as well to consider environmental implications and impacts on other species.