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Darwin's Nutrition



Michael A. Crawford

David E. Marsh

“In all the controversies over what the causes of diversities might be, no one seems to have paid much attention to the factor in the environment that has the most obvious effect on any organism: food”. - Michael Crawford & David Marsh, The Driving Force: Food in Evolution and the Future (http://www.ctds.info/health-quotes.html).

     In 1989 David Marsh co-authored with Professor Michael Crawford a book called The Driving Force that was published by Heinemann and Harper & Row, with the subtitle, Food, Evolution and the Future. It was an important work, combining the research resources of Marsh with the scientific evaluation of the distinguished biochemist and chemical pathologist, Crawford.

     Anticipating the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth, the book examined the great naturalist’s finding on human evolution in the light of the ongoing debate between those who attribute the evolution of species to The Survival of the Fittest and those who look to aspects of the Environment (including diet) as the guiding factor.

     Darwin's thesis had embraced an understanding of both Natural Selection and Conditions of Existence. However, a decade after his death, ‘Conditions’ were dropped from the equation because of grossly flawed experiments (i) by Professor August Weismann, whose ensuing conviction of "the all sufficiency of natural selection" gave birth to genetic determinism (ii) - which was not Darwin's view.  ((1) A commentator has said: ‘Weismann needed to look no further than his own penis to realise that adherents of the Abrahamic religions had been circumcising male babies for 7,000 years, and yet baby boys are still born with foreskins’.)

     In the Origin, Darwin had been ambiguous about it, though conceding that The Conditions of Life could dictate the terms within which Natural Selection operated. In this new book Crawford & Marsh have set themselves the task of reviewing the findings of many of Darwin’s predecessors and successors in the field of evolution, as well as those of Darwin himself, measuring them against subsequent and scientific findings in the general field of the environment and specifically that of Nutrition.

 At the least this new book will help fill a gap in Darwin’s otherwise masterly thesis. At the best it will show how the “new” science of Epigenetics proves that nutrition, consistent with what Darwin called "the Conditions of Existence", has been far more influential on evolution, than previously thought.

(i)  One experiment consisted of amputating the tails of several generations of mice to see if he could breed tail-less mice.

(ii)  And to neo-Darwinism – which can be seen as Weismann-ism.

The author’s previous publications on this subject include:

  • The Driving Force: Food, Evolution & the Future. Heinemann and Harper & Row, 1989.

Excerpts from this book were included in ‘Why 2K? anthology for a new era’.  Ed. Stephen Hayward. Millenium Experience. ‘A compilation of some of the best pieces of writing of the 20th century.’

Further publications may be found searching <David Marsh nutrition evolution>

What do we know about Darwin?


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