Dangerous Biobanks

An article on the news tonight (19th May 2022) was singing the praises of Biobanks. Genetic material of endangered species is held in frozen packets ready to create new animals from these remains.

In all of the discussion around this no mention is made of the loss of cultures from the animals and birds whose traces are so technologically preserved.

The assumption by those scientists working on this project seems to be that the entire life of the animal (I include birds in that word) is present as a DNA signature. The big argument in some branches of science is carried under the title ‘nature or nurture’. In this undertaking scientists have clearly decided for Nature. Anyone bothering to watch the interactions of sparrows on a patio will observe how parents teach the young ones and squabbles arise between siblings.

All of this is Nurture. It is not Nature. Just as human families differ so too do the families of other species. The family unit and all that imposes on any individual, is something greater than the individual species. Humans are not alone in having cultures. All creatures do.

So why are Biobanks dangerous? Very simply they suppose there is no need to preserve habitats and species since we can ‘resurrect them’ whenever we choose. We have the DNA.

When will science begin to live by the heart as well as the head? When will scientists incorporate intuition and conscience into their work instead of merely technique.

Author: Keith Armstrong

Dance teacher, writer, film-maker, educationalist, enthusiast.