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‘It is immoral for us to not pursue technologies like de-extinction’

In this week’s podcast, we spoke to Ben Lamm, Founder of de-extinction company, Colossal Biosciences who said that species preservation and de-extinction go hand in hand

We have a moral obligation to use all possible technologies to help save devastated ecosystems.

This is what Ben Lamm, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of de-extinction company, Colossal Biosciences told us in this week’s Net Hero Podcast.

Mr Lamm said: ‘We helped drive mammoths to extinction.

‘So I think we have a moral obligation not only to not fiddle with ecosystems but to actually drive de-extinction, because we can leverage these technologies for conservation.

‘We can also undo the sins of the past. If we can play god every time we eradicate a species or cut down a forest, we can also do it to save ecosystems.

‘We have a responsibility to be good stewards of this planet. And if we can use human ingenuity and technologies to reverse some of the sins of the past, then I don’t think it’s just a question of if we should do it.

‘I think it’s immoral with the biodiversity crisis that we’re at, to not pursue technologies like de-extinction, because it’s better to have a de-extinction toolkit and not need it than not have a de-extinction toolkit and need it.’

Ben Lamm believes that current conservation methods aren’t going fast enough compared to what we’re going to the planet.

He said: ‘We are facing not just a climate crisis but a biodiversity crisis. We are going to lose up to 50% of all biodiversity between now and 2050 if we don’t do anything.’

Ben Lamm explained that protecting keystone species, though de-extinction and species preservation, can help restore endangered ecosystems.

He said: ‘When a keystone species is removed from the environment, the environment starts to change.

‘Rewilding of the wolves, for example. They got rid of the wolves because of the fear that predators are bad. But apex predators and large herbivores are incredibly important to the ecosystem.

‘The assumption is that if you remove a predator, there will be more animals left behind but it is quite the opposite.

‘If you remove a predator, there’s actually less animals because everything gets out of balance.

‘And nature has an incredible way of balancing the ecosystem and a more balanced ecosystem has a higher rate of oxygen and nitrogen turnover.

‘A balanced ecosystem has incredible ways of sequestering carbon and in some cases, even methane in the Arctic.

‘So we want to help preserve keystone species that are in danger of going extinct today, that are critically endangered and we also want to bring back keystone species that have been lost to help revitalise those ecosystems.’

Mr Lamm told us that Colossal’s technology can also help save existing elephant species.

He said: ‘There’s not a lot of research that’s gone into elephant developmental biology so colossal could help not only bring back mammoths but we could help saving existing elephant species.

‘For example, there’s a deadly herpes virus that kills 20% of baby elephants every single year, more so than poaching does.

‘The number one killer of elephants is eeHv and its eradicable. You can eradicate it with a single mRNA vaccine and some genetic engineering.

‘And we’re currently working on to eradicate eeHv, we’re doing the clinical trials right now and we’re quite close to it. Once we get a little further in our research, we are going to open source it to the world.

‘So even if Colossal does nothing else but cure eeHv, we will have done more to save existing elephants than all elephant conservation worldwide.’

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