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Monday, February 23, 2015

Plastic people

Plastic people

Epigenetics has shown that there’s no such thing as a 
normal human body, so how did it get hijacked by the body police?

by  and  3,200 words 

The promise of perfection. Photo by Gallery Stock
The promise of perfection. Photo by Gallery Stock
Julie Guthman is professor of social sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
She is the author ofAgrarian Dreams: the Paradox of Organic Farming in California(2nd edition, 2014) andWeighing In: Obesity, Food Justice and the Limits of Capitalism(2011)
Becky Mansfield is professor of geography at the Ohio State University. She is the editor
 ofPrivatization: Property and the Remaking of Nature-Society Relations(2008).
The past decade has seen an avalanche of paradigm-shattering studies in the
biological, toxicological and behavioural sciences: from findings published
recently inScience and in Nature showing that sperm carry the marks of a
man’s trauma and undernourishment, which leads to depression and metabolic
glitches in his offspring, to the steady flow of research from the lab of the
reproductive biologist Michael Skinner. Skinner’s research at Washington State
University shows that in-utero exposure to environmental chemicals, such as
those in plastics and pesticides, affects reproductive development, obesity and
a wide range of diseases in adulthood. The weight of argument behind such
findings suggests a radical conclusion: namely, that the environment not only
influences the human body, it comes into it, shaping what it is – and who you are.
Such thinking cuts against the grain of what we’ve always thought about the
human body: that its boundary is impermeable, its integrity complete, its unity
sovereign. It suggests that we humans are nothing of the sort. We are porous,
changeable, plastic.


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