Scientists’ effort clone woolly mammoth raises ethical questions

Scientists’ effort clone woolly mammoth raises ethical questions

Using the controversial gene-editing technology CRISPR-Cas9, a team of Harvard scientists are trying to coax woolly mammoth-like traits out of ordinary elephant cells. However, the effort to clone a woolly mammoth has raised ethical questions.

The ethical questions range from the risk of impregnating existing elephants with an experimental hybrid embryo to the ability to bring back an extinct species.

However, geneticist George Church supported their research, saying it would produce benefits that would go beyond the chance to see an extinct species. He suggested the reintroduction of extinct species like woolly mammoth may mitigate the risk of climate change.

Dr. Church stressed that their experiment was not aimed at producing the extinct species exactly.

Speaking on the topic, he said, “Our aim is to produce a hybrid elephant-mammoth embryo. Actually, it would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits. We’re not there yet, but it could happen in a couple of years.”

Separately, the National Academy of Sciences urged the U.S. government to allow scientists to alter people’s DNA using the CRISPR-Cas9 technique to prevent serious and strongly heritable diseases and disorders.

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