Researchers suggest that at least 900 species have gone extinct in the last five centuries. Several fauna and flora are either on the brink of or heading towards extinction today. Genetic rescue efforts using genomics or synthetic biology may be a solution to current conservation challenges.
The fear of unintended consequences should not suppress research and innovation. Inaction will result in more biodiversity loss when biotechnology could lead to a possible solution. Instead of focusing on unintended consequences, it is necessary to have a more balanced conversation and take the “Intended Consequences” of what can potentially be achieved through the use of genetic tools.
At an official TED conference hosted by TEDMonterey, Ryan Phelan, Cofounder & Executive Director at Revive & Restore, shared stories of successful projects such as the cloned black-footed ferret and the cloned Przewalski’s horse as proof that biodiversity restoration using biotechnology is possible. All too often, drastic measures are taken to repopulate a species only when it is nearing extinction. By this time, the species has lower diversity, lower fertility and higher mortality resulting in a small, maladaptive population.
Watch Ryan Phelan’s full talk on Youtube!