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De-Extinction technologies in European Union Law. Reflections on the innovation and the precautionary principle.

Ebru Tuncel - Freie Universität Berlin, Prof. C. Calliess

The interdisciplinary research project examines reproductive technologies for the protection of biodiversity from the perspective of EU environmental law and is at the same time a contribution to the innovation and precautionary principle. De-extinction refers to the process of creating an organism as a functional equivalent of an extinct species through biotechnological processes. This “proxy” shall subsequently be released into the environment with a view to achieving conservation benefits by restoring certain ecological functions and processes, that have been lost through the original species’ extinction. De-Extinction thus reveals itself to be an innovative approach to combatting the loss of biodiversity through the deliberate manipulation of the environment. De-Extinction does not only illustrate the far-reaching human possibilities as a result of technical innovations, but also emphasises the role assigned to humanity in the geological age of the Anthropocene. While technological progress is generally considered to be destructive to nature and the environment, in the Anthropocene, innovative technologies however depict an opportunity. This raises new perspectives and questions, particularly in law, regarding the opportunities of De-Extinction, taking into account the associated risks. Against this background, the research project examines whether proactive nature conservation measures, which are aimed at the technical manipulation of the environment, fit into the contemporary EU environmental law framework, and which legal obligations, regulatory obstacles and challenges arise for De-Extinction efforts.