The CIA, alongside multiple other entities, has taken part in funding the biotechnology company Colossal Biosciences, which is attempting to bring back the woolly mammoth from extinction, The Intercept reports.
“Biotechnology and the broader bioeconomy are critical for humanity to further develop. It is important for all facets of our government to develop them and have an understanding of what is possible,” Colossal co-founder Ben Lamm told the investigative publication.
Colossal’s new investor, In-Q-Tel, is a nonprofit venture capital firm funded by the CIA that has recently shown an interest in biotechnology and DNA sequencing.
On Sept. 22, In-Q-Tel published a blog post expressing plainly that its interest was not in resurrecting the woolly mammoth but in the technology used to do so.
“Why the interest in a company like Colossal, which was founded with a mission to ‘de-extinct’ the woolly mammoth and other species?” the nonprofit asks. “Strategically, it’s less about the mammoths and more about the capability. The next wave of progress in synbio will lead to advances in our ability to shape both form and function in organisms at the macroscopic level. Solving the challenges that must be overcome in engineering animals and plants.”
Ben Lamm, Colossal’s co-founder, echoed the venture’s point, telling The Intercept in an email that “biotechnology and the broader bioeconomy are critical for humanity to further develop. It is important for all facets of our government to develop them and have an understanding of what is possible.”
According to Newsweek, mammoths were massive elephant-like creatures that lived roughly 5 million years ago to roughly 4,000 years ago that navigated the arctic conditions of Ice Age glaciers at approximately the same time as the Great Pyramids of Egypt were in construction.
Now with the aid of the new gene-editing technology provided by CRISPR, the biotech company is positioning itself to bring back the immense beasts through DNA procured by mummified mammoth remains.
“Colossal will revolutionize history and be the first company to use CRISPR technology successfully in the de-extinction of previously lost species. On the journey we will build radical new software tools and technologies to advance the science of genomics overall,” Colossal wrote on its website.
According to the company, restoring the mammoth will assist in deterring the melting of Arctic permafrost, as well as aid in halting the emission of greenhouse gasses stored within, and assist in saving modern elephants from extinction.
Still, not all scientists agree that de-extinction is a good thing.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Jeremy Austin, director for the Australian Center of Ancient DNA, said, “De-extinction is a fairytale science.
“It’s pretty clear to people like me that thylacine or mammoth de-extinction is more about media attention for the scientists and less about doing serious science.”
But as Lamm claims, “critics who say de-extinction of genes to create proxy species is impossible are critics who are simply not fully informed and do not know the science. We have been clear from day one that on the path to de-extinction we will be developing technologies which we hope to be beneficial to both human healthcare as well as conservation.”
The biotechnology company plans to resurrect the woolly mammoth by using CRISPR to splice together Asian elephant DNA with woolly mammoth DNA, as the Asian elephant is the closest living relative.
After that, the idea is that the spliced-together DNA would form a hybrid embryo, which would then be transplanted into the womb of a healthy African elephant.
Regardless of whether such a feat is achievable, the CIA is interested.
Colossal’s other founder, George Church, a Harvard geneticist and former Jeffrey Epstein funding recipient, told Der Spiegel in 2013 that the resurrection of the Neanderthal might be possible with the technology.
“We can clone all kinds of mammals, so it’s very likely that we could clone a human,” Church stated. “Why shouldn’t we be able to do so?”
When the interviewer pointed out that human cloning had been banned, Church responded, “and laws can change, by the way.”
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