Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drinks

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Twilight of the Genetic Determinists: Your Children Appear to Be What You Eat

Posted by on Tue, Jul 31, 2012 at 8:24 AM

Live Science:

You are what you eat, the saying goes. And, according to two new genetic studies, you are what your mother, father, grandparents and great-grandparents ate, too.

Diet, be it poor or healthy, can so alter the nature of one's DNA that those changes can be passed on to the progeny. While this much has been speculated for years, researchers in two independent studies have found ways in which this likely is happening.

The findings, which involve epigenetics, may help explain the increased genetic risk that children face compared to their parents for diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

With that in mind, let's turn to a passage near the beginning of James Shapiro's short but dense masterpiece, Evolution: A View from the 21st Century:

In addition, the importance of short- and long-term transmission of so-called “epigenetic” information contained in complexes of DNA, RNA, and protein is a burgeoning field of contemporary research with important connections to the evolutionary process [9]. Beyond these few examples, we will undoubtedly discover new aspects of cell heredity in the coming decades. It is possible that DNA-based heredity will ultimately find a more modest role in our thinking about inheritance in the course of this new century.
This rethinking is of the greatest importance because, ultimately, social darwinism never really died. It was, instead, repackaged as genetic determinism and evolutionary psychology. We are now moving into a cultural climate that is much more open than one in which the neo-Darwinian synthesis was shaped.


Comments (10) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 2
Speaking of children, Chuck,
Your ideal has been found:…
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on July 31, 2012 at 9:27 AM · Report this
onion 3
I'd like to see more studies of whether or not certain genetic diseases become more common after large-scale stressors such as famine, war or pollution events.
Posted by onion on July 31, 2012 at 10:31 AM · Report this
Charles, you are ignorant on this topic.
Posted by oxyala trio on July 31, 2012 at 10:34 AM · Report this


Your review of Shapiro's book is the greatest gift you've given to your audience so far! Who knows...maybe we'll be having some Lysenko revivalism soon?

It never quite seemed right that so complex an information system as DNA was entirely a one way process...but then, they might call me an IDer.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on July 31, 2012 at 10:45 AM · Report this
TVDinner 6
So my child is a donut? Well, that explains why potty training was so hard.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on July 31, 2012 at 11:20 AM · Report this
Very interesting article! And yes, it's not "all in the genes," by far. We've known this for a long time.
Posted by floater on July 31, 2012 at 11:27 AM · Report this
PBS / Nova did an excellent overview of epigenetics a few years ago that speaks to famines/droughts and the genetic implications, which led to the understanding of the phenomenon. don't know how to link:…
Posted by gracey on July 31, 2012 at 11:58 AM · Report this
onion 9
@8 - thanks!
Posted by onion on July 31, 2012 at 3:11 PM · Report this
venomlash 10
"epigenetics has a significant effect" != "HERP DERP DETERMINISTIC HEREDITY IS DEAD"
Posted by venomlash on July 31, 2012 at 5:35 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 11
Posted by Ipso Facto on August 1, 2012 at 12:04 AM · Report this

Add a comment

Commenting on this item is available only to registered commenters.

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy