02 August 2014


'Regulating Genetics' by Kerry Abrams and Brandon L. Garrett argues that
Over the past decades, [US] government regulation and funding of DNA testing has reshaped the use of genetic evidence across various fields, including criminal law, family law, and employment law. Far from representing a clear-cut story of genetics "essentialism" or even "exceptionalism" in which genetic evidence is prioritized above the alternatives, these efforts have been plagued by conflict. For example, the federal government’s support of DNA databases has come at the expense of using both DNA and traditional police work to solve live criminal cases. Similarly, federal welfare laws require states to use DNA evidence to establish paternity to collect child support from "deadbeat dads," creating potentially destabilizing effects on families. Moreover, courts often do not treat use of genetic evidence as implicating individual rights, policy trade-offs, or federalism problems regarding allocation of power between the federal government and the states.
We identify two modes of genetic testing: identification testing, used to establish a person’s identity, and predictive testing, which seeks to predict outcomes for a person based on genetics. Next, we set out a typology that can be used to better understand how genetic testing has been legally regulated across a wide variety of fields. We identify two modes of regulatory action: intentional and incidental. These modes can be further divided into two methods of regulation: data-focused and ethics-based. Data-focused legislation concentrates on the short-term benefits of developing information about a population’s genetic information; ethics-based legislation, in contrast, is concerned with the long-term consequences of using DNA, such as effects on privacy or individuals rights. The ways that genetic evidence is deployed can profoundly affect constitutional rights and the structure of crucial legal and social institutions. This Article offers a descriptive account of how regulation has shaped and been reshaped by uses of genetic identity evidence and a normative critique of this dynamic.
'Genuine fakes' by Amy Fletcher in (2010) 29(1) Politics and the Life Sciences 48-60 comments
This case study of the Australian Museum's Thylacine Cloning Project analyzes a frame dispute that emerged during public communication of a scientific project, which lasted from 1999 to 2005, and was premised on the idea of resurrecting an extinct species. In choosing the Tasmanian tiger--an iconic Australian marsupial officially declared extinct in 1986--the promoters of the cloning project ensured extensive media coverage. However, the popular and scientific attention generated by the idea of bringing back an extinct species challenged the Museum's efforts to frame the project in terms of scientific progress. The project repeatedly shifted from science to spectacle, as multiple stakeholders used the mass media to negotiate the scientific feasibility of trying to reverse extinction through the application of advanced biotechnology. The case study findings are relevant both to the emerging social issues surrounding the use of paleogenomics in wildlife conservation, and to the theoretical development of frame analysis as applied to scientific controversies. 
 'De-extinction: a novel and remarkable case of bio-objectification' by  Lucia Martinelli, Markku Oksanen and Helena Siipi in (2014) 55(4) Croatian Medical Journal 423-427 comments
 De-extinction is the process of creating an organism which is – or greatly resembles – a member of an extinct species. Contemporary biotechnology offers various promising alternatives for achieving this purpose, including the techniques that have already been applied to preserving endangered species. De-extinction requires an in-depth study of the biophysical conditions where the species can live and reproduce in relation to other species – including humans – and adapt to the environmental changes. In any case, risk and harm evaluation on the impact of the “re-birth” of species is necessary. There is a number of crucial ethical issues concerning de-extinction. They include the meanings of concepts such as “nature,” “species,” “evolution,” “biodiversity,” “death,” and “wildlife” in relation to human behavior and human impact on nature. In 2013, de-extinction became popular through press and public events; the National Geographic devoted a cover story to this topic and presented various possibilities and scenarios about the most suitable candidates. The Revive and Restore network, with the support of TED and in partnership with the National Geographic Society, convened the TEDxDeExtinction conference bringing together conservationists, genetic technology practitioners, scientists, and ethicists (http://www.ted.com/tedx/events/7650). Because the revival of extinct animals inspires imagination, de-extinction has been a topic of science fiction novels, such as John Brosnan’s Carnosaur (1984) and Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park (1990) and their film adaptations. 
Following a systematic philosophical and ethical analysis on animal de-extinction in the context of ecological restoration, this article analyzes de-extinction from the standpoint of bio-objectification and considers how de-extinction is a case of bio-objectification.
'Resuscitation and resurrection: The ethics of cloning cheetahs, mammoths, and Neanderthals' by Sariah Cottrell, Jamie L Jensen and Steven L Peck in (2014) 10(3) Life Sciences, Society and Policy comments
Recent events and advances address the possibility of cloning endangered and extinct species. The ethics of these types of cloning have special considerations, uniquely different from the types of cloning commonly practiced. Cloning of cheetahs (and other endangered or vulnerable species) may be ethically appropriate, given certain constraints. However, the ethics of cloning extinct species varies; for example, cloning mammoths and Neanderthals is more ethically problematic than conservation cloning, and requires more attention. Cloning Neanderthals in particular is likely unethical and such a project should not be undertaken. It is important to discuss and plan for the constraints necessary to mitigate the harms of conservation and extinct cloning, and it is imperative that scientific and public discourse enlighten and guide actions in the sphere of cloning.
'What’s So Special about Reconstructing a Mammoth? Ethics of Breeding and Biotechnology in Re-creating Extinct Species' by Christian Gamborg in Oksanen and Siipi (eds) The Ethics of Animal Modification and Re-creation: Reviving, Rewilding, Restoring (Palgrave Macmillan) comments
Wild animals are objects of fascination and concern. Efforts are made all over the world to protect wild animals – especially the ones in danger of losing their habitats or their life – and even more so when it is the last member of a species or subspecies. Although difficult to assess, an educated guess places the current extinction rate to about a dozen species a day (Chivian and Bernstein 2008), although there is a great deal of uncertainty about this figure (May 2011). Species losses have their greatest effect when the species lost was previously abundant or had a so-called functionally irreplaceable role in the given ecosystem (Wardle et al. 2011). Certainly, a sense of urgency would seem to form part of the empirical basis for placing the science and practice of de-extinction well into the domain of environmental conservation. In addition there is an alleged moral imperative because humans in many, but not all, cases have (in)directly caused the species to disappear (Wolverton 2010). Hence, ‘repair’ of ecological damage and species extinction is seen as ‘an act of enlightened self-interest, as well as an ethical imperative’ (Cairns 2003). It can also be seen as a more pleasure-seeking reason: that by restoring or rewilding damaged ecosystems we may bring wonder back into our lives (Monbiot 2013). But is it for real? ‘Mammoths Soon to Come Alive’, ‘Breeding Ancient Cattle back from Extincti on’ (Faris 2010) or ‘Clone Zone: Bringing Extinct Animals Back from the Dead’ (Frozen Ark 2011) – headlines like this have the ring of slightly dated science fiction or the scrapped titles of a somewhat low key sequel to the hit movie Jurassic Park, now with the sabre-toothed tiger and the cave bear from the Pleistocene epoch (which spans the most recent glaciations). But there is increasingly less science fiction about the on-going projects around the world – as reconstruction technologies develop – that involve trying to resurrect: the Pyrenean Ibex, a kind of wild mountain goat known as a bucardo which was officially declared extinct in 2000; the thylacine, a hyena-like marsupial carnivore, which vanished as a species in the 1930s; the passenger-pigeon which went extinct in 1914; and several more – not least the woolly mammoth which disappeared during the Holocene warming. A race has started with some scientists claiming that they believe it is just a matter of years before it will be possible to produce a healthy, cloned mammoth by using tissue from the body of a four-month old mammoth, preserved by permafrost (Switek 2013).
Resurrection efforts are not just about ways of changing animals but about ways of changing nature. The re-creation of extinct species seems to steer right into a long-standing ethical debate about the (right) use of technology, about what constitutes a fair distribution of harms and benefits, and about the nature and extent of our responsibilities. This debate concerns on the one hand the moral status of (resurrected) animals and issues about how they should be treated; and on the other hand the value of nature and what kind of meddling is considered acceptable. One of the stated reasons for taking up the challenge and financially supporting this kind of research endeavour is one of getting more knowledge about extinct species. Another often stated, and more applied, purpose is that it could help to preserve nature; saving extinct species and with the insights from this saving species still around which are critical in numbers. Following an over-utilization and extermination of species, which was followed by comprehensive conservation and preservation efforts, as expressed by the Convention on Biological Diversity, a main nature management trend in Europe and in North America has been ecological restoration, such as habitat or landscape restoration and including species reintroduction. But not only is a change taking place in the actual practices and stated justifications as substantial losses of species are witnessed (Hoffman et al. 2010), there is also a move towards ‘breaking up’ old dichotomies between conservation and preservation, between active and passive nature management. Clearly, if it is only feasible to produce one individual these goals cannot be reached and the products of these efforts will only find homes in zoos, cabinets of rarities or museums. Nevertheless, if it was possible to produce a population it could be argued that it might, in theory, be seen as making a difference in restoring lost nature.
In this the chapter I will explore whether there is anything special about reconstructing a mammoth – that is, the issue of re-creating species – from two different, albeit related, angles. The first looks at the ethical aspects of specific techniques (breeding and modern biotechnology) to bring ab out such extinct species, particularly the use of cloning. This kind of technology gives rise to ethical questions. Are breeding-induced animal welfare problems acceptable? What ethical limits are in play here, and how should they be elaborated given the plurality of ethical perspectives? The other angle places species re-creation in the context of nature restoration, specifically relating it to the practice of back breeding, asking whether such radically reintroduced animals should be regarded as research animals, animals in our care or as wild animals. I will also consider how such restoration should be conceived, whether as ‘real’ nature or nature by proxy.