The Intercept recently reported that the Central Intelligence Agency, along with other entities, has been funding a biotechnology company that is trying to bring the woolly mammoth back from extinction.
According to The Intercept report, the CIA, which has recently shown an interest in DNA sequencing and biotechnology, has been investing in Colossal Biosciences through In-Q-Tel, a nonprofit venture capital firm funded by the agency.
Colossal co-founder Ben Lamm told The Intercept that the further development of biotechnology and the bioeconomy “are critical for humanity.” Lamm explained that it is important for the federal government to develop biotech and understand “what is possible.”
Last month, the venture capital firm In-Q-Tel said in a blog post that its interest isn’t in resurrecting the woolly mammoth so much as it is in the technology Colossal is developing to do so.
In-Q-Tel explained that the development of “synbio will lead to advances in our ability to shape both form and function in organisms at the macroscopic level,” adding that in engineering plants and animals, these challenges must be solved.
Colossal Biosciences is using new gene-editing technology from CRISPR to bring back woolly mammoths through DNA extracted from mummified mammoth remains.
According to its website, the biotech company will “revolutionize history” to achieve the “de-extinction of previously lost species.”
Colossal believes restoring the woolly mammoth could help to deter the melting of Arctic permafrost, halting the emission of greenhouse gases stored within it while helping to save modern-day elephants from extinction.
However, not everybody thinks it’s such a great idea.
In a recent interview, Jeremy Austin, the director of the Australian Center of Ancient DNA described “de-extinction” as “fairytale science” that is more focused on media attention than on serious science.
But Colossal’s Ben Lamm said critics are “simply not fully informed” about the technology.