Like a surprising number of my friends, I’m lactose-intolerant, so dairy products make me ill in a variety of unsexy ways — this started about the time I turned 18. Earlier today I saw Boing Boing linked to a BBC article about the lactose gene, which helps humans break down the sugars in milk; the article suggests that milk drinking is an “advantageous evolution trait”. However, in reading the in-depth piece “Not Milk?” at Scientific American, it seems to be a gene variant that developed for a specific portion of the population and SA tells us “that the ability to digest the milk sugar probably resulted from the advent of dairy farming.” Adaptive evolution traits as a response to commerce culture? Interesting stuff. But what’s left out of yesterday’s BBC piece that I find most fascinating is in this Scientific American snip, “About 80 percent of the people in southern Europe now are lactose intolerant, which means that there was a relatively small window for the gene variant to have come into prevalence in northern Europe.” I am *so* going to start the Lactard Liberation Front.
Not Milk? Neolithic Europeans Couldn’t Stomach the Stuff (sciam.com)
Milk tolerance gene emerged recently (boingboing.net)