Thursday, July 25, 2024

The woolly mammoth is back. Should we eat them?


aAnd what hairy beast, whose watch comes at last, slacks toward a laboratory being born?

About 3900 years ago, on the Siberian mainland, the last known woolly mammoth puffed. Since then, humans have known mammoths only through their remains: scattered bones and a few frozen corpses, with the scattered remains of one day’s shaggy fur. These remains have, for centuries, sparked our curiosity – a curiosity that might one day be satiated. Colossal Biosciences, a Texas-based startup, is using genetic engineering in its quest to bring species back to life.

“The woolly mammoth was a keeper of a healthier planet,” the company says. Using salvaged mammoth DNA, Colossal will genetically edit Asian elephants, the species’ closest relatives. If her plans succeed, she will produce a mystical giant – or as close a replica as possible – six years from now. This year, the company raised $75 million from investors.

And so, some 3,906 years after it thought it saw our back, the woolly mammoth might re-acquaint itself with humans—a species that has never seen a large mammal that doesn’t like the idea of ​​eating. Their extinction was not only our responsibility – the end of the Ice Age dramatically reduced the size of their potential habitat – but, as some paleontologists argue, prehistoricism is littered with the bodies of megafauna that we ate to extinction. Giant sloths, giant armadillos, dire wolves… who was serving planet earth In those days he had to stay on his toes.

Given the obvious advances in mammoth recreation, we can also answer the obvious question: Should we eat them? Colossal did not mention this possibility, focusing instead on the ecological benefits of restoring mammoths: the animal’s heavy gait thickens permafrost, or the layer of permanently frozen soil, gravel and sand beneath the earth’s surface, which prevents it from thawing and releasing greenhouse gases. “If the mammoth steppe ecosystem can be revived, it could help reverse the rapid warming of the climate and, more urgently, protect Arctic permafrost – one of the world’s largest carbon deposits,” the company says.

However, one wonders if people would be inclined to savor, just as their ancestors did. We’ll have to decide at some point if we, too, want to eat woolly mammoths—and indeed which other species we choose to resurrect. Do you eat them?

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She would be prepared for it, says Holly Whitelaw, director of renewable food and agriculture. “I would eat anything holistically nurtured,” Whitelaw says. She says that roving animals have good soil health; They distribute seeds and microbes as they roam. The healthier the Arctic soil, the more grasslands it supports, and the more carbon from the atmosphere. “It’s like bringing back the wolves,” Whitelaw says. “You get that full level of system working better again.”

It would be a great tragedy if we were to push these majestic individuals into our time simply to use and exploit them for our own benefit.

Victoria Heridge, a paleontologist at the Museum of Natural History and expert on woolly mammoths, called for caution. Dr. Heridge said that while implementing this type of environmental project telegraph“You are doing a bioengineering experiment, if your goal is that [met], will bring about change on a global scale. The question becomes: Who is manipulating the planet’s climate system? “

Talking to independentDr. Heridge expressed additional concerns about the origin of these mammoths. “I have a problem with anything related to surrogate mothers,” she says. You will carry genetically modified mammoth amalgam inside Asian elephants, exposing them to significant pain and medical risks.

These are objections to the project itself, not the idea of ​​eating mammoth meat at its end. Dr. Heridge considers this scenario unlikely, but puts forward a hypothetical scenario in which you would consider eating mammoth meat. Fast forward 100 years. Imagine Siberia isn’t a swamp, there’s a place for woolly elephants to roam, don’t wade in a swamp full of mosquitoes. Suppose they manage to raise 20,000 woolly elephants at this point. They roam through Banff causing havoc, to keep These residents, they had to do an annual lynching. Would I refuse it? No. But there are a lot of caveats.”

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Pasture-raised mammoths have a good ratio of omega:3 to omega:6 fats, Whitelaw says, making them a good food choice. With this in mind, it is easy to imagine paleo enthusiasts providing consumer demand. However, Dr. Heridge is again skeptical. “The idea that you can diet back to this old-fashioned way is really problematic,” she says. “There is a naive idea that there is a lost Eden. Our view of it is based on nothing but wishful thinking and stereotypes.”

dinner tonight? The woolly mammoth in the 2016 movie ‘Ice Age: Collision Course’

(stock struggle)

There are other ways to look at this question. Thinkers like Brian Tomasek, author of the blog Articles on Reducing Sufferinghe argues that if you’re going to eat animals, “it’s generally better to eat bigger animals so you get more meat in a horrific life and agonizing death. For example, a bovine cow produces over 100 times as much meat per animal than a chicken, so turning From eating all the chicken to all the beef will reduce the number of farm animals killed by over 99 percent.”

Looking at the issue of eating woolly mammoths, Tomasek says, “Woly mammoths weigh about 10 times as much as a cow, so eating mammoths instead of young animals will reduce animal mortality even more.”

We should also think about the way the mammoth died. “Whether death by hunting is better or worse than natural death in the wild depends on how long it will take for the mammoth to die after being shot, and how painful the bullet wound is to the point of death,” Tomasek says. He says wild deer can take 30-60 minutes to die after being shot in the lungs or heart. Their brains are a very small target, although that might be different for a mammoth.

There are many competing considerations here. Although rejuvenating Arctic grasslands may be beneficial for the climate, it may also entail greater numbers of wildlife. Tomasek sees this as bad news. “Almost all terrestrial animals are invertebrates or small vertebrates that produce huge numbers of offspring, most of whom die painfully shortly after birth.”

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I think it will be like pork

Strong opposition to the idea comes from Elisa Allen, PETA’s vice president of programs. Allen argues that we should focus on protecting existing species, whose habitats are rapidly disappearing, rather than reviving species that have already lost their habitat: other members of it when we don’t have to.” Allen says that “the future of the meat industry lies in lab-made or printed meats.” Three dimensional”.

Gacy Reis-Anthes, co-founder of the Sentience Institute, believes that applying this technology to woolly mammoths is ethically best for their hunt. “One of the most pressing challenges facing humanity in the 21st century is to end the unethical and unsustainable industry of factory farming,” he says. “Cultured meat is one of the most promising alternatives, so if mammoth meat is what gets people excited about it, I’m excited about it. It would be very wasteful to breed and grow live mammoths when we can sustainably grow meat tissue in bioreactors.”

This would avoid what Anthes sees as an inherent error of killing, for our happiness, a creature that can think and feel. He loves technology, he says, but stresses that it is important to “maintain the limits of respect and the bodily integrity of living beings. One of the most fruitful limits has been the right not to own and exploit for the benefit of others. This applies to humans but is increasingly realizing it for animals, and is a fundamental pillar in Responsible management of other creatures.

“It would be a great tragedy if we were to reach our technological arm back in the Ice Age and make these majestic individuals of our time just to use and exploit them for our own benefit.”

For our ancestors, who built buildings from mammoth bones, this was not a problem for their half. But let’s imagine a mammoth-based dish derived not from hunting but from a bioreactor. How will it taste? Whitelaw has a guess. “I think it will be a bit like pork. You will have to cook it long and slowly to reduce the fat to make it. Or maybe you can make it tasty and crunchy.”

However, do take care of that fur.



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