November 6, 2008

Mice cloned from "dead" genes

By Mice cloned from "dead" genes

Center for Biological Diversity reports on a recent Japanese effort that has successfully cloned mice from the frozen carcasses of other mice that had been dead for 16 years.  The clinical success raises hopes that carcasses of long-extinct mammals found in tundra, e.g. the wooly mammoth, might be brought back to life, as it were.  Interestingly, CBD's commentary on this achievement is cautiously laudatory.  CBD admonishes:

Remember: Biotechnology has nothing to do with true conservation — endangered species need to be saved in nature, along with their habitat, which is why we have the Endangered Species Act.

This raises an interesting question as to the ultimate purpose of the ESA:  is it anthropocentric or "cosmocentric"?  In other words, is the preservation of endangered species a good because those species can help man, or is the preservation of biodiversity writ large a good in itself that needs no other justification?  Clearly, CBD subscribes to the latter position.  It is, however, an open question whether Congress would have passed the ESA in absence of the former justification.

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