From Discover Magazine: DNA Is Not Destiny – but why isn’t the news getting out?
|February 20, 2012||Posted by News under Epigenetics, News|
In “The new science of epigenetics rewrites the rules of disease, heredity, and identity,” Ethan Watters writes,
The even greater surprise is the recent discovery that epigenetic signals from the environment can be passed on from one generation to the next, sometimes for several generations, without changing a single gene sequence. It’s well established, of course, that environmental effects like radiation, which alter the genetic sequences in a sex cell’s DNA, can leave a mark on subsequent generations. Likewise, it’s known that the environment in a mother’s womb can alter the development of a fetus. What’s eye-opening is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the epigenetic changes wrought by one’s diet, behavior, or surroundings can work their way into the germ line and echo far into the future. Put simply, and as bizarre as it may sound, what you eat or smoke today could affect the health and behavior of your great-grandchildren.
All of these discoveries are shaking the modern biological and social certainties about genetics and identity. We commonly accept the notion that through our DNA we are destined to have particular body shapes, personalities, and diseases. Some scholars even contend that the genetic code predetermines intelligence and is the root cause of many social ills, including poverty, crime, and violence. “Gene as fate” has become conventional wisdom. Through the study of epigenetics, that notion at last may be proved outdated. Suddenly, for better or worse, we appear to have a measure of control over our genetic legacy.
He wrote that over five years ago (November 2006) and we have heard remarkably little discussion since then about how epigenetics impacts (wastes) neo-Darwinism.
Just an accident?
Or do far more Darwin tenure bores have to retire before honest discussions can happen?
Hat tip: Stephanie West Allan at Brains on Purpose