Genetics Is Giving Way to a New Science of Life

Published on Monday Feb 6, 2017 by Independent Science News: “Genetics Is Giving Way to a New Science of Life” was written by Jonathan Latham, PhD.

Synopsis: “Genes…run everything in our bodies” states the website of the US National Institutes of Health. This view is genetic determinism. It is the idea that DNA is a master molecule that controls living organisms and it has been the conceptual foundation of biology for over 100 years. However, exactly twenty years ago, Prof Richard Strohman, of UC Berkeley, predicted of genetic determinism that “this paradigm has little power and must eventually fail” (in Nature Biotechnology 15: 194-200, 1997).
That day of failure has now arrived. The paradigm of the centrality of DNA is no longer tenable. It is collapsing in the face of numerous lines of evidence. For example, we now know that life preceded the existence of DNA. We also know that some cells and some organisms do not even possess DNA. The emerging alternative is that life is a process that is coordinated and influenced by all the molecules in living systems, including by their physical structures and the various emergent properties of these. Life is therefore self-organised. The novelty of this new view is that DNA therefore plays just a modest part in the functioning of life, and even in evolution. The implication is likely to be to release biology from what has become a restrictive and dysfunctional paradigm. Equally, just as the advent of Darwinism created social turmoil, so too might this new view since genetic determinist thought has become deeply entrenched in our social and political structures. For example, it is the deep cause of social injustices such as racism and it currently misguides agriculture.

Read the full article at: Genetics Is Giving Way to a New Science of Life

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