Conservation: Invest in a DNA Bank for all Species

To complement its efforts to conserve nature in the wild, the Convention on Biological Diversity should develop a comprehensive and adequately funded global effort to preserve intact genomes and viable cells for every known species and for new species as they are discovered. Super-cold freezing is the current method of choice, from a whole rhino skin to a bacterium.

Freezing tissue costs $200–300 per species, with negligible maintenance costs. Preserving material from all the roughly 1.8 million known species would cost about $540 million. The United States spends more than $1 billion every four days on the war in Afghanistan. So less than $1 billion to preserve the DNA of all known species on Earth, with whom we share billions of years of evolutionary history, seems like good value.

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