September 8, 2011

Will stem cell research make endangered species protection unnecessary?

By Will stem cell research make endangered species protection unnecessary?

Author:  Damien M. Schiff

Scientists now appear somewhat confident that they can raise species in a lab from their stem cells.  What implications does this development have for debates over the utility of endangered species legislation?  One of the principal justifications for the Endangered Species Act is that the law preserves biodiversity and thereby saves species that may, down the road, contain significant medical or other value to human beings.  It seems to me that raising such species in labs would serve that goal as well, if not more effectively, as the ESA does now.  Of course, many environmental groups believe that endangered species protection is justified on non-anthropocentric grounds.  Nevertheless, as a political matter, I doubt that the ESA and similar laws would be on the books if it were conceded that the human utility of such laws were nil.

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