De-extinction: When Species Are Brought Back from the Dead

De-extinctionDescription:  While dinosaurs may not be reappearing in the near future, the implications of the 1993 film Jurassic Park, a movie where dinosaurs roamed modern day Earth, may not be that far-fetched; scientists are closer to creating living and breathing clones of extinct species, dubbing the process “de-extinction”. While de-extinction is bound to be quite the scientific innovation, what is the point? Should we do it because humans have a moral obligation to bring back the species that they made extinct?  Should we do it because bringing back these species can have potential environmental or human benefits? Should we do it just because we can?   This project will explore these questions through multiple ethical lenses including environmental risks and benefits, “The Wow Factor”, humankind’s moral obligation towards extinct animals, bio-objectification, and animal rights.  It will also discuss The Lazarus Project as a case study to highlight the importance of ethical examination.


While dinosaurs may not be reappearing in the near future, the implications of the 1993 film Jurassic Park, a movie where dinosaurs roamed modern day Earth, may not be that far-fetched; scientists are closer to creating living and breathing clones of extinct species, dubbing the process “de-extinction”.  De-extinction can be defined as the process of bringing back extinct species or conserving endangered species through the use of genetic engineering.

While de-extinction is bound to be quite the scientific innovation, what is the point? Should we do it because humans have a moral obligation to bring back the species that they made extinct?  Should we do it because bringing back these species can have potential environmental or human benefits? Should we do it just because we can?   This paper will explore these questions through multiple ethical lenses including environmental risks and benefits, “The Wow Factor”, humankind’s moral obligation towards extinct animals, bio-objectification, and animal rights. It will also discuss The Lazarus Project as a case study to highlight the importance of ethical examination.

Factual Background: How De-extinction Can Be Achieved and Success in the Field

There are numerous scientific processes through which de-extinction can be achieved, however this paper will limit its discussion to three: Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (cloning), genetic engineering, and selective breeding. These processes each have ethical issues surrounding them, but these issues will not be the focus of this paper. The ethics relating to the phase after de-extinction is achieved will be the emphasis of this discussion. With that said, it is important to understand the basic science behind these processes.

Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer

When parts of an extinct species are discovered (which are usually some sort of tissue), scientists have the ability to preserve them in a lab. The cells of these parts can be used to perform a procedure called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer. In the case of de-extinction, “a cell nucleus from well-preserved tissue of an individual of the extinct species is inserted into an (enucleated) ovum of a female of a related species” (S. Cohen 166). If the ovum accepts this new nucleus, it can be fertilized and implanted into the uterus of a related species. This egg has to “catch”, meaning the uterus of the related species has to accept the egg, and the related mother will hopefully become pregnant with the extinct species. This theoretically produces a clone, or “a plant or animal that is grown from one cell of its parent and that has exactly the same genes as its parent” (Merriam-Webster).

De-extinctionFigure1Figure 1. Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer: a process in which the nucleus is removed from an egg and replaced with a nucleus from a somatic cell. “Stages of Nuclear Transfer.” Intech 10. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.

Since Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer only pertains to removing and inserting the nucleus, the embryo produced has most of the DNA of its parent, but not all. This means that while the offspring produced through this method is a very close replica of the extinct species, it is not a “perfect” clone because it does not have the same genetic makeup. Scientists are learning that there are other types of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), which is where genes are located, that are not located in the nucleus. For example, there have been fragments of DNA found in the mitochondria, which is called mitochondrial DNA; Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer does not transfer the mitochondria of a cell, so it therefore does not transfer this type of DNA.

Genetic Engineering

In some cases, scientists have gathered fragments of DNA from an extinct species that are not completed. To reproduce an extinct species, scientists can make it so the DNA fragments are “sequenced and then spliced into the genome of a closely related species” (S. Cohen 166). They can also edit the genome of a closely-related species to match that of an extinct species (Biello). In either case, once successful, scientists would most likely proceed with Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer.

Modifying DNA can be a very complicated process; inserting and deleting base pairs that are located on a DNA strand is very meticulous because the wrong move can result in the incorrect expression of a gene or disrupt other genes, which could be detrimental to the resulting embryo. There are multiple ways to modify DNA, but this discussion will only examine one example called Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR).

Once scientists have determined the sequence of DNA needed to produce a clone of the extinct species, which is determined through rigorous testing, they would insert the now-sequenced DNA on a chip that has millions of base pairs on it. This chip will “deliver” the DNA to the proposed location through a process called Microcell-Chromosome Transfer, which will not be explained in full detail in this paper. CRISPR has been used for Microcell-Chromosome Transfer. CRISPR is achieved when ribonucleic acid (RNA) is guided by a type of nuclease enzyme called Cas9 to delete and replace a portion of the genome (Church).

De-extinctionFigure2Figure 2. CRISPR: the Cas9 enzyme guides RNA to a portion of the genome and either inserts or deletes genes. CRISPR Systems for Genome Editing. Mirus. Mirus Bio, n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2015.

Regarding de-extinction, CRISPR would be used to edit the genome of a closely-related species so it is altered to be that of the genome of an extinct species. After this process is achieved, scientists would most likely use Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer to produce an offspring of the extinct species.

Back/Selective Breeding

Back breeding is the selection of different, existing species which are chosen for their genotypes, or an organism’s genetic traits, and phenotypes, or the traits an organism physically exhibits based on their genetic code, to create a new species (Reece and Campbell). For de-extinction, the objective is to produce an offspring that is as close to an extinct species as possible. In his essay named The Ethics of De-Extinction, Shlomo Cohen (166) states that, “… we select and breed the individuals exhibiting the phenotypes most similar to the extinct species”.

It is important to note that back breeding neither produces a species that is a direct clone, nor would the offspring have the same amount of DNA in common as an offspring produced through Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer. It resembles a species very closely, especially in its physical features, but it does not have the same genetic makeup.

The Success of the Pyrenean Ibex (the Bucardo)

In addition to having scientific background, it is important to note that de-extinction has in fact already been achieved with an animal known as the Pyrenean ibex. During the 1900s, the Pyrenean ibex, a type of mountain goat, roamed the Iberian Peninsula. While the cause of their extinction is not exactly known, scientists believe that disease and the inability to compete with other domestic and wild ungulates for food and habitat” were factors (Bove). Another important contribution is that the goats were hunted down by humans from the mid-to-late 1900s for their fur coats. This continued until only one was left in 1999, which scientists named Celia. Before she died, scientists took some tissue cells with the idea of preserving them so that they could experiment with de-extinction (Zimmer).

In 2003, Jose Folch and his team brought back a clone of Celia through Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer.  Unfortunately, after the de-extinct Pyrenean ibex was born, it died after nine minutes because “one of her lungs had grown a gigantic extra lobe as solid as a piece of liver”, which made it impossible for her to breathe (Zimmer). Although many other de-extinction projects are going on, some of which include the woolly mammoth, the dinosaur, and the passenger pigeon, no other project has reached this level of success.

While it can be argued that the Pyrenean ibex was successfully revived, it is evident that the goat lived a quick and painful life. This outcome raises the following ethical question: what is the potential quality of life of the animals that are resurrected? This is just one of the many issues that arises with de-extinction, which will be explored in depth in the next section of this essay.

Moral Issues

This section will touch upon five main moral issues that surround de-extinction in three sections: the environmental benefits and risks if the revived animals were put back in their ecosystem, “The Wow Factor”, and whether humans have a moral obligation to animals that they caused to be extinct, the concept of bio-objectification, and their correlation to animal rights.

Environmental Benefits and Risks

One of the many questions that arises when discussing de-extinction is whether animals should be put back into the ecosystem they once lived in, or, in the case that their ecosystem no longer exists, put back into an existing environment where they can survive and thrive. Assuming the extinct animals will be placed in their natural habitat or something that resembles it and not in a lab or zoo, this section will address the potential benefits and risks to the environment.

Because extinct animals will have to be introduced into environments that they have not been present in for decades or, in cases like the woolly mammoth and the dinosaur, thousands or millions of years, there is uncertainty regarding how the ecosystem and its inhabitants will react to an extinct species’ reintroduction. With this in mind, there has been one widely accepted scientific experiment of the reintroduction of a species that proved that reintroducing a species that had once left, whether it be from migration or extinction, could come back and be very beneficial for the ecosystem and the food web; this study explored the reintroduction of grey wolves to Yellowstone National Park (Yellowstone).

The wolves that once inhabited Yellowstone when it was created in 1872 were ultimately not legally protected by the park; they were driven out by the United States Government’s predator control programs. By 1926, the wolves were no longer present in Yellowstone because most were either hunted or fled from the park because of the hunters. With the lack of wolves and therefore lack of predators, the wolves’ prey population, specifically the elk, grew exponentially and overwhelmed the environment. The elks destroyed the vegetation for food supply and the lack of vegetation had a great negative effect on the ecosystem in Yellowstone. To solve this issue, scientists suggested that wolves be reintroduced. Based on previously observed behavior, they predicted that the wolves would feed on the elk and would thereby resolve the issue through a reduction in the elk population that would result in an increase in vegetation (Dobson 1).

Andy P. Dobson (1), an observer of the experiment, said, “Significant evidence does suggest that the elk had changed their feeding patterns in the presence of wolves, avoiding areas where they could be readily ambushed. This allowed vegetation…to recover”. Scientists inferred that the wolves had caused a trophic cascade, which is “an ecological process which starts at the top of the food chain and tumbles all the way down to the bottom” (Moinbot). Because the wolves fed on the elk, there were fewer elk to feed on the vegetation and the vegetation therefore thrived in particular areas; it was not only a source of food for many organisms, but it was a habitat for them to live in. In this case, the wolves’ reintroduction to Yellowstone had a very positive impact.

While the reintroduction of wolves was beneficial for Yellowstone National Park, it is one of the only experiments of its kind to be somewhat accepted in the scientific community; for this study to be even more widely accepted, there would have to be more experiments of similar hypotheses and outcomes. Because of this, scientists cannot be completely sure if reintroducing an extinct species to an ecosystem will be beneficial. In fact, it could potentially be extremely risky. Depending on how long the ecosystem has been without a certain species, the ecosystem and its inhabitants might have adapted to their absence and reintroducing them could throw the ecosystem’s food chain off its natural course. With all these factors and uncertainties, scientists are ultimately not sure what the impact on an environment would be if a species was reintroduced.

Many conservationists are also afraid that if de-extinction is successful it will encourage a false sense of security. “By creating a false sense of assurance that ‘if a species goes away, we can snap out fingers and bring it back’, de-extinction may undermine [sic] conservation efforts” (S. Cohen 168). This complacency could lead to a greater disintegration of the Earth’s environment, which is another environmental risk that is important to consider.

Placing an extinct animal back into the environment without significant studies that validate the practice could present a great risk. Before an extinct species is revived, it is recommended that scientists provide evidence of what would most likely occur with their reintroduction into an environment.

The Wow Factor”

“The Wow Factor” refers to the concept that scientists should continue experiment with de-extinction and research because it is a great sign of scientific progress and innovation. Some argue that this progress should not be undermined because the efforts are valuable enough to trump all other moral issues. They believe that the ethical values surrounding de-extinction should not inhibit scientists from proceeding with innovative research.

Many people’s initial reaction when the learn about de-extinction is to say, “Wow!”. For example, Hank Greely, a professor at Stanford Law School who focuses on the ethics of new biomedical technologies, said, “What intrigues me is that it’s really cool” (Greely qtd. in Zimmer 7). While it may seem like a minor consideration, reactions such as Greely’s and “The Wow Factor” in general are very significant arguments, especially if they are not balanced by ethical risk analysis. The idea that a scientific breakthrough is above all moral values has appeared in other fields and has resulted in the implementation of some form of ethical review. For example, in medical and pharmaceutical fields, drugs must go through a rigorous approval process before being introduced to the public. If all drugs were released to the public based solely on their innovative promise, many humans would be at risk. However, coincidentally, their innovative promise is a prime example of why scientists continue to test certain drugs and go through the rigorous process; they can be very beneficial to humans in need.

Is “The Wow Factor” an acceptable reason to perform de-extinction? To answer this, scientists must consider “The Wow Factor” and whether this argument is above the standard scientific practice of assessing de-extinction’s potential effect on humankind and the environment. In other words, scientists must answer whether a revived animal be beneficial to the species or humans.

Our Moral Obligation, Bio-objectification, and Their Correlation to Animal Rights

In most cases, humans are the core perpetrators for making organisms go extinct, whether it be by tearing down their national habitat, hunting them to death, or other things. Because of this, some believe that humans have a moral obligation to bring back these organisms. They believe that if scientists have the tools to do this, they not only should take advantage of them, but they need to take advantage of them (Archer).

In addition to the debate of whether or not humans have a moral obligation towards extinct species, there is the debate of whether or not animals are being bio-objectified. Bio-objectification is the process in which living things are used for human needs that may range “from knowledge enhancement, species conservation, and scientific discoveries to entertainment in zoos and exhibits” (Martinelli, Oksanen, and Siipi 424). While some scientists say they plan to put their revived animals back into the wild, others say they will put them into zoos for conservation or to be studied. Is either ethically permissible? This question will be explored in more detail later on.

With regard to these two topics, they both have a significant question in common: do animals have rights? Some say that because animals feel pain and are coherent to a certain extent, they do have rights (Singer). Others say that because animals cannot make moral decisions on their own, they do not have rights (Cohen 94). This discussion will be limited to the role of animal rights under two different spotlights: its role in regards to human’s moral obligation to bring species back as well as its role when an animal is bio-objectified.

Our Moral Obligation and Animal Rights

Michael Archer, a lead researcher in the de-extinction field, says, “If we were responsible for the extinction of the species, deliberately or inadvertently, we have a moral responsibility or imperative to undo that if we can” (Archer qtd. in Yong 5). Philosophically speaking, if humans have an obligation towards something, they do because that something has “a claim against [humans], that they have rights that [humans] have breached” (S. Cohen 169). In other words, if humans feel a need to bring justice to some wrong that they want to make right, the moral standards surrounding the wrong act are there because they have infringed upon another organism’s rights. Thereby, the rationality behind the idea that humans have a moral obligation towards extinct species can only be answered if the following question is examined: Do animals have rights? (S. Cohen 169). In this discussion, “rights” refers to a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something” (Merriam-Webster).

It has been scientifically proven that animals are not conscious about their decisions the way that humans are; they have no sense of a moral judgment. Animals cannot make “a claim… that one party may use against another” (C. Cohen 94). Because of this fact, some believe that when it is boiled down to the core, humans are above all non-human animals; they think a human life is more important than an animal’s life. They believe non-human animals cannot make any moral argument against humans, so they cannot have rights.

If animals do not have rights, then humans owe nothing to them. However, even if some humans believe animals do not have rights, they might feel guilty enough to try and undo a wrong they think they have committed. An example by Carl Cohen, who has a different definition to “obligation” than previously described, explains the guilt that may be similar to the relationship between a human and an extinct animal:

Obligations arise from special relationships: the payment of my son’s college tuition is something to which he has no right, although it may be my obligation to bear the burden if I reasonably can… Obligations may arise from particular acts or circumstances: one may be obliged to another for a special kindness done, or obliged to put an animal out of its misery in view of its condition—although neither the human benefactor nor the dying animal may have had a claim of right (C. Cohen 95).

On the other hand, some people believe that animals have rights simply because they feel pain and think somewhat coherently; they would counter Cohen’s point about putting “an animal out of its misery in view of its condition” and say that is the exact reason that animals have rights. They believe that humans owe it to animals to make sure they do not feel that pain, which is why most animal rights activists are against experimentation on animals for cosmetic production.

Individuals that believe in animal rights also counter the idea that humans are above other organisms. They believe that “other creatures on this planet also have interests” and the assumption that humans are superior to other creatures is a result of “species-selfishness” (Singer 3). Animal rights activists would, conclusively, believe that humans have an obligation to bring back extinct species.

The conversation about our moral obligation becomes complicated when it is considered that extinct species do not exist anymore; therefore, some say, we cannot have an obligation towards extinct species. However, a counter to this argument is the animals did exist at one point in time, and if they were successfully revived, they would exist in the future. Humans can in fact have an obligation towards something that exists in the future. It can be compared to how parents may feel an obligation towards their unborn child to keep them safe.

Regardless of whether or not animals have rights, a human being may feel guilty enough to have at least a want, not a need, to bring them back. In this sense, de-extinction is necessary to achieve at least some sort of fulfillment of that want or sense of moral obligation.

Bio-objectification and Animal Rights

In some instances, scientists are justifying the use of de-extinction because they can bring back animals that will ultimately be beneficial for the human race if they are studied in a number of different ways. By acknowledging this as a factor for their justification of their experiments, the scientists are bio-objectifying the animals. As described before, bio-objectification is the process in which living things are used for human needs that may range “from knowledge enhancement, species conservation, and scientific discoveries to entertainment in zoos and exhibits” (Martinelli, Oksanen, and Siipi 424).

A lot of scientists are advocates for “knowledge enhancement”, meaning they believe that bringing back some extinct animals for study will lead to substantial breakthroughs in the scientific field. Greely says, “It’s frustrating now when all you can look at are the bones of these creatures… and occasionally some old, usually not scientifically rigorous, depictions of what their behavior is like” (Greely). By bringing back extinct animals, scientists can move from inferred depictions to certainty of actual looks and behavior.

Jack Horner is so enthralled by this idea of certainty that he has started a project to resurrect the dinosaur. In his book How to Build a Dinosaur, he says:

There is this image that keeps popping into my mind…the image I have is that I walk onstage with a dinosaur on a leash. It’s small, but bigger than a chicken… Instead of a lecture, this would be a public science class with questions and challenges about how it was done, what it feels like, does it have teeth, what does it eat, how close is it really to a dinosaur? What would inevitably follow would be a discussion about the nature of dinosaurs, of birds, of evolution and development, of the relationship of molecular biology to big changes in evolution, of how we know what we know, and whether we were justified in doing what we did (Horner 213).

Horner’s main idea is that scientists can learn about the evolution of birds over millions of years by reviving the dinosaur. While it is widely accepted, the concept of evolution is only a theory. By bringing back the dinosaur, we can solidify this theory; again, it gives scientists a sense of conviction and confidence.

When an animal is bio-objectified, does it infringe upon their rights? Do animals have a right to a life free of pain? In this section, this paper uses the term “animal rights in a different spotlight. We do not necessarily need to answer whether or not animals have rights. What needs to be answered is as follows: Is biomedical research that is achieved by the exploitation of animals morally wrong?

As stated earlier, some believe that animals have rights because they can feel pain. They believe that by doing biomedical research experiments on animals, they are suffering, and they can feel that suffering; they think it is not right for us to inflict that willingly upon animals just for human benefit (Singer 3).

Even if someone does not believe that animals have rights because of this reasoning, some may believe that animals have some rights, but not as many as humans; even if an individual does not believe animals have any rights at all, most feel some sort of guilt if an animal is being unnecessarily harmed, or if their quality of life is not as great as it can be. For example, some believe that putting animals in zoos is wrong because they have a bad quality of life; they cannot live the lives they could have lived because they are trapped inside a cage with boundaries.

Even though this guilt towards animals that are being unnecessarily harmed is present in most humans, there is also a concept that usually trumps this guilt: non-human animals are one of the only alternatives to getting conclusive results during experimentation from something other than humans (C. Cohen 96). Some believe that while it is sad that animals feel pain, humans are the more important factors in the equation; if scientists have to hurt a few animals to gain knowledge that will benefit a greater number of humans, animals’ exploitation is not only a scientist’s first choice, but, in their mind, the necessary choice.

With regard to the case of de-extinction, it is important to remember that the species do not exist anymore. It is different to go through the action and process of experimentation when bringing a species back than using an animal that does exist to do this type of experimentation. When bringing back an extinct species, to do it justly, the animal being brought back must have a good quality of life. If they are being studied and abused in labs, they are not experiencing a good quality of life.

While the guilt from putting animals through experimentation can be overwhelming, there is not much of an alternative other than using humans for biomedical research, which is potentially more problematic. However, scientists must restrain themselves as much as possible to avoid abusing the power that humans have over animals, meaning if they can avoid experimentation, they should. Bringing back an extinct species just to study them for human use or medical benefit is not an ethically justifiable reason.

The Lazarus Project

The moral issues included in this essay will be examined through the lens of The Lazarus Project, which is a current, well-respected de-extinction project. Examining this case study will be important to understand because a real-life scenario can help practically apply and interpret theoretical moral concepts.

The Lazarus Project is led by Michael Archer and he and his team are trying to resurrect the gastric brooding frog. The frog was discovered in 1972 in Queensland, Australia and seemed like a regular species of frog until Mike Tyler discovered how they reproduced in 1974. The gastric brooding frog reproduces when a female swallows her own eggs and converts her stomach into a womb by stopping hydrochloric acid made in the stomach. The pregnancy takes about six weeks, in which the “mum never eats [and] her stomach bloats so much that her lungs collapse, forcing her to breathe through her skin” (Yong 3). The mother gives birth through propulsive vomiting, meaning she throws up her froglets.

De-extinctionFigure3Figure 3. Gastric brooding frog giving birth. Tyler, Mike. A gastric-brooding frog, Rheobatrachus silus., n.d. Web. 11 Jan. 2015.

After these discoveries were made, this special type of frog went extinct in 1983 due to a human-bred pathogen. “The last specimen was seen in the wild in either 1979 or 1981 and despite extensive field surveys, none was ever found again” (Yong 2).

To attempt to revive this special frog, Archer and his team planned to experiment with Somatic Nuclear Cell Transfer. Since they possessed old tissue samples of the gastric brooding frog from when they were being studied, there was no need for any type of genetic engineering. When scientists performed Somatic Nuclear Cell Transfer successfully, the scientists planned to insert the newly-made extinct species’ egg into a close relative called the barred frog; this frog only lay eggs once a year, which gives the scientists a limited amount of time to experiment.

Archer and his team announced in 2013 that one cluster of cells divided into the early stages of an embryo, which was a huge breakthrough in the experiment as well as the field of de-extinction experiments. They tested the DNA of the cell and it did have the DNA of a gastric brooding frog, meaning they successfully cloned the extinct frog. It should only be a matter of time before a gastric brooding frog is actually produced.

Why are scientists devoting so much time to these studies? Archer himself is a strong believer that humans have a moral obligation to extinct animals. As discussed before, he believes that we have a moral imperative to bring back species if we caused their extinction, especially if we have the technology to do so (Michael Archer qtd. in Yong 5).

Michael Archer also sees The Lazarus Project as an opportunity to study how the gastric brooding frog changes one organ to another, as well as how the frog prevents hydrochloric acid from coating their stomach. If studied, scientists could potentially find out more about stomach tendencies and how to control them. This has the potential to improve treatments of stomach ulcers as well as helping those who go through stomach surgeries to heal more quickly. From this point of view, The Lazarus Project’s mission is not based on concern for the gastric brooding frog, as Archer had previously claimed, but out of concern for humans; the project’s focus is to benefit humans. Therefore, Archer’s project is bio-objectifying the species.

If Archer believes in the moral imperative as much as he says, he should be putting them back into their environment to achieve the justice he is speaking of. This would be the “natural restoration” of things that would be the cause of his advocacy for the moral imperative. So what is the real drive behind the study? What will the quality of life of the gastric brooding frog be if he brought them back to life? Would they just be cooped up in a lab for study? How would these studies be conducted? Will it cause the animal pain?

Is Archer really bringing justice for the gastric brooding frog by bringing them back for study? His passion for the project would indicate that he feels morally obligated to bring the frogs back to right a wrong; however, he also states he would like to use the frogs as subjects to benefit humans. By holding these stances, he seemingly contradicts himself. Would the ethically just outcome be to allow the de-extinct frogs to reproduce and flourish prior to studying them? Perhaps that is how Archer plans to proceed, however no clear indication of Archer’s position is given in interviews on this issue.

The ethical considerations seen in The Lazarus Project helps one understand how to apply theoretical moral concepts related to current de-extinction experiments. The project is evidence of an important step in scientific research and it is necessary for ethical values to be considered by the scientists involved. By taking moral values into account, scientists can determine the best interest of the resurrected species as well as humankind.


The motives behind de-extinction and their impact on the environment and humankind must be seriously considered before implementation. If an animal is resurrected simply for human benefit, what will the quality of life for the animal be? If an animal is revived because of an obligation that humans have towards extinct animals and they are justly put back into an ecosystem, what are potential benefits and risks that could affect the ecosystem or the de-extinct species?

In order to assure that scientists consider these questions and make ethically sound judgments before conducting de-extinction experiments, it is recommended that regulations are put into place to provide objective oversight. These regulations should be similar to the regulatory direction provided by U.S. Food and Drug Administration in its role in pharmaceutical studies. It would assure that scientists reached certain ethical conclusions before they continued with their experiments.

If scientists apply ethical decision-making skills, it will assure that de-extinction is not done solely because humans have the capability to do so. Humans will continue to innovate, and with innovation comes the responsibility to assure that human progress leads to their benefit as well as the benefit of all organisms in their environment. Ethical consideration provides a framework that assures that these responsibilities will be attained and that humans do not abuse the power their intellect provides them.

By Sarah Brigid Konefal

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