The CIA invests in a company that wants to resurrect mammoths, here’s why – Evening edition Ouest-France

In the United States, the CIA, the most famous intelligence agency, has indirectly invested in a company that wants to resurrect the woolly mammoth, a species that disappeared 4,000 years ago. But why does this topic interest American spies?

It was an imposing animal, endowed with enormous fangs and thick fur that allowed it to withstand the cold. The last woolly mammoths became extinct 4,000 years ago, according to the University of Cambridge, UK. But today, some scientists are trying to bring this extinct species back to life: they want to recreate mammoths through genetics. And this project indirectly interests the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), the most famous of the American intelligence agencies.

The company that wants to bring the mammoth back to life

The CIA has indirectly invested in a company trying to bring back the woolly mammoth (primal mammoth of its scientific name) from the dead. This is indicated by public documents released by the US media. the interception. They appear on the website of a company called In-Q-Tel: this fund is the“independent not-for-profit strategic investor for the CIA and the broader US intelligence community”, says the US Department of Homeland Security. Its mission: “Invest in cutting-edge technologies to strengthen the national security of the United States”.

The company that wants to revive woolly mammoths is in the “portfolio” of the In-Q-Tel fund. (Screenshot: iqt.org/)

However, in the fund’s portfolio, that is, in the list of companies it invests in, there is now an American firm called Colossal Biosciences. The company, launched in 2021, aims to “bring extinct species back to their original habitats so they can revitalize lost ecosystems, for the health of the planet” , while appearing at a release .

Recreating specimens of extinct species through genetics is what is called “de-extinction”, and the process is not unanimous among scientists.

The American businessman Ben Lamm, co-founder of the company, explained that he wanted, through genetic work, to revive certain extinct species, but also to preserve critically endangered species.

Also read: Extinct 4,000 years ago, will the woolly mammoth become a protected species?

With this in mind, Colossal Biosciences said precisely that it wanted to bring the woolly mammoth back to the arctic tundra. It was, in essence, to modify the DNA of modern elephants, in particular so that they would develop a coat and a layer of fat that would allow them to resist the cold, the American newspaper explained at the time. The New York Times.

The presence of these animals in the icy expanses of the Far North would allow, according to the company, “slow the melting of Arctic permafrost” : this perpetually frozen ground whose melting is precisely, for scientists, a ” time bomb “ likely to accelerate global warming.

The subject of biotechnology

Colossal Biosciences has raised tens of millions of dollars in funding (and received extensive media coverage), but experts interviewed The New York Times they were skeptical, unconvinced of the project’s chances of success. The woolly mammoth is not the only extinct species that Colossal Biosciences researchers are interested in, as they also want to revive the Tasmanian tiger.

Also read: Will the woolly mammoth really be reborn in Siberia?

A mammoth skeleton on display in Siegsdorf, Germany in 2008. (Photo: Lou. Gruber/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)

But why are these projects of interest to the CIA? In an article published on its website at the end of September, In-Q-Tel mentions biotechnology, a field “critical to solving global problems” such as access to health care or food insecurity. The investment fund mentions, by name, Colossal Biosciences, and analyzes the reasons that led to investing in this company.

“In strategic terms, it’s not so much about mammoths as it is about capabilities” that the company could develop in the field of synthetic biology, we read in this document. A sector that, therefore, interests this fund and the entities that invest in it. One of the In-Q-Tel branches, B.Next, is precisely interested “Applications of biotechnology to respond to threats posed by infectious disease epidemics or pandemics to national security” American.

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