Monday, March 3, 2014

Fixed the post

Harvard molecular biologist George Church, hosted a symposium at Harvard Medical school called 'bringing back the passenger pigeon.' Church gave a demonstration of his new genome editing technology. Biologists and avian experts were enthusiastic about the idea. But why stop there?
 “We realized that we could do it not only for the passenger pigeon, but for other species." says Ryan Phelan, who went on to become executive director of a new project they've named Revive and Restore.
Sounds like a sci-fi movie, doesn't it? Nope. Here's the technical stuff
Okay, let's see what we have here. Scientists who've preserved collected DNA from endangered and extinct animals.
Zoologists who want to start a park in Siberia featuring woolly mammoths, and a whole bunch of geneticists who think it would be a 'really cool idea' to bring back some ice age animals.
Uh, guys? Remember how well that worked out for Jurassic Park? only that was a movie, and you're trying to do it for real?
This goes under my category of should we do it. Really, just because we figured out how to do something, do we really need to go through with it just because, 'it would be really cool.'
On the one hand, consider the passenger pigeon that was hunted into extinction in 1914. Bringing that species back might not be so bad because the ecological niche hasn't changed in 100 years. That niche has been filled by other species. The mammoth and saber toothed cat however haven't been around in a 4,000 years. Their climate and ecology are gone. 
How would you feel if they could bring back the Dodo bird or a northern white rhino?
What could we possibly learn from that? The longer an animal has been extinct, the less likely it is to fit into the modern world ecosystem. Since our world is constantly changing, the only sensible thing is to take care of the animals we have. If, despite our best efforts, the species goes extinct, such as the panda, then I'll be very sorry to see it go. It bothers me that certain species are hunted to extinction, such as the Asiatic tigers. But now being able to kill off a species and bring them back, does present a quandary. Why are we doing this? As stated above, just because it's cool, isn't an answer.
We've got to come up with a better answer than that.

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