Monday, November 06, 2006
We are all mongrels
The Daily Telegraph has an article on a coming Channel 4 programme '100% English', 13 November, 9pm Channel 4 , which may make an illuminating watch for those of us who question even the existence of race .
Recent scientific advances mean that it is now possible to unlock a far fuller story of the genetic past than has ever previously been possible. Inside you - in your DNA - are the traces of every one of your ancestors. By using a sophisticated computer program to compare your DNA with a global databank, scientists are now able to reveal the secrets of your global origins.
The tests would involve comparing their DNA with a global databank that divides the world into four ancient population groups - European, East Asian, Sub-Saharan African and Native American. (This last group covers a large swathe of northern Russia through to the Americas, and so might be more properly considered 'Eurasian'.)
The results would then be given as a percentage breakdown from each of these groups. A further, narrowing-down test - only for those with a high proportion of European DNA, which was in fact everyone in our group - would break this 'European' component down further into four more population groups: Northern European, South-Eastern European, Middle Eastern and South Asian.
The programme features volunteers who submit themselves to the DNA test and the reults are analysed by Dr Mark Thomas, of the Centre for Genetic Anthropology at University College, London.
According to Thomas, it has been estimated that someone living approximately 6,000 years ago is a direct ancestor of every single person living in the world today. He also pointed out that man has been on the move ever since he first evolved in Africa. Migration is not only the norm, it is nature's way of keeping us healthy. The more our genes mix, the better the long-term health of the species - the better we can withstand infectious diseases and the less likely we are to suffer from genetic diseases.
Presented with the question how many 'English' people currently lived in England. Thomas thought about it. 'At a rough guess? Er, zero.' Such a thing would only have been possible if a particular social group, isolated from the rest of society, had inbred for centuries.
When told that much of his genetic make-up pointed to origins in Russia and Eurasia one participant's comment was
'I guess we're all mongrels'