Scientist knocks view of genes as “blueprints” for development

| June 11, 2012
DNA blueprint
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.
The report that sequencing of a fetal genome demonstrates that we have a crude “blueprint” for adulthood has spawned the expected push back from cultural anthropologists who rebel agains the predictive quality of genes. “Genes play an important role in our development and functioning, not as directors but as parts of a complex system,” writes Augustin Fuentes, a University of Notre Dame anthropologist. Well, yes and no. Genes provide a lot more than just a part of development equation, as most post modernist anthropologists like to claim. Genes should be thought like the frame of a house–they circumscribe possibility, and do provide, like a blueprint, limitations. But like a house design, much of the cool stuff is how you decorate the insides—what you do to reach your genetic limits. But make no mistake about it–genes do set limits, although they don’t “determine” behavior per se. Here’s Fuentes’ misaimed criticism:

The GLP featured this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. The viewpoint is the author’s own. The GLP’s goal is to stimulate constructive discourse on challenging science issues.

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