Darwin Vs New discoveries - epigenetics

An eighteenth century french naturalist, Jean-baptiste Lamarck's theory of evolution was different from what Darwin had proposed. His theory provided room for learnt behavior from being passed onto off springs. His opponents discredited his theory through a simplistic experiment of chopping the tails of rats to prove the point that learned traits are not passed to off springs. As Darwinism triumphed Lamarkism was pushed to the background. New discoveries in the field of genetics is showing that environment during early phase of development contributes to switching of genes. New discoveries are also showing that some parts of learnt traits may not be totally erased when a new embryo cell is formed by an egg and a sperm.

Study of population going through severe stress has shown that their anxiety responses may be showing up in off springs. Specific observations have been made in case of pregnant women traumatized through world trade center bombing, abused children growing up with anxiety and children conceived during wartime famine in Netherlands. These cases bring more credibility to the fact that the genes may be switching on and off much beyond the gestational period and early development phases. Genes may be getting altered even in adult life. Not only do environmental chemicals impact this switching but environmental stress is an equally important factor. Between twins one may get cancer based on their dietary toxins and the way one deals with stress in their life. The diet and the mental state of a pregnant women pays a crucial role in the onset of decease tendencies - asthma, spinal and brain deceases.

David Crews a UT zoologist speculates that soaring obesity and autism rates is somehow connected to exposure faced by a generation ago to the foundation principles of modern lifestyle revolution - fertilizers, detergents, pesticides and plastics. These have now reached the developing world where the checks and balances against these hidden threats are much less difficult to implement. Many of these cultures. previously laid so much emphasis on the dietary intake and the mental state of its pregnant women. They could control what was obvious and explicit. They are all feverishly competing the match the wealth of the developed world which is just waking up to the fact that environment is as important as genes!