Viewpoint: Here’s why the controversial field of epigenetics is ‘so alluring’

epigenetics

I think of stories I’ve been told about my grandmother in 1945 Japan.

It feels plausible, and poetic, to think that the horrors she endured, the courage she summoned in the face of these challenges while protecting my aunt and uncle, were passed onto my father when he was born, and then to me, becoming “seared” into my own being at a kind of molecular level, as Carmen Maria Machado alludes to in her haunting short story, “A Brief and Fearful Star.” My grit may be linked to my grandmother’s experiences, or my angst.

It’s this kind of psychoanalytical thinking that makes a nascent, uneven, and controversial scientific field known as epigenetic inheritance so alluring.

Early research, such as studies suggesting the existence of epigenetic imprints of trauma in the descendants of Holocaust survivors and famine victims, have already gripped the public with questions and possibilities. Could certain epigenetic “memories” of slavery, genocide, poverty, or abuse be inherited too?

Related article:  ‘Genome doping’: Gene-edited babies could change the world of athletics

Machado’s story thematically unwinds these ideas in a way that science, so far, cannot. Memories lived by a mother reverberate within her daughter’s body, even as they remain unknowable to her. “I know it feels like we are the first people on this land,” Machado’s protagonist daughter tells the reader, echoing these ideas, “but we have been preceded by monsters and men alike.”

Read full, original post: Could the Experiences of Our Ancestors Be “Seared Into Our Cells”?

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
ft covidresponseus feature

Video: Viewpoint: The US wrote the global playbook on the coronavirus and then ignored it

A year ago, the United States was regarded as the country best prepared for a pandemic. Our government had spent ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend