A biology professor has claimed that the mass trauma of Donald Trump’s presidency will bring about permanent changes to the human genome.
Peter Ward, an academic at the University of Washington, predicted “an evolutionary consequence” because of the “stress” Trump’s term in the White House is causing the American population.
He asserted that the process by which human genetics could change is analogous to post-traumatic stress disorder in soldiers or the the victims of domestic abuse.
The unconventional view came in a discussion of human capacity to mutate with the science blog (and Gawker offshott) Gizmodo.
Ward was one of seven academics asked to bring their expertise to bear on the question of whether and how X-Men-style “superhuman mutants” could develop.
After speculating about using gene therapy to develop super-soldiers, Ward went on to posit that permanent genetic changes can occur as a result of “horrendous episodes” people go through.
He was not asked about Trump, but brought him up as an example, alongside combat trauma and violence at home:
We’re finding more and more that, for instance, people who have gone through combat, or women who have been abused—when you have these horrendous episodes in life, it causes permanent change, which is then passed on to your kids. These are actual genetic shifts that are taking place within people. It’s called epigenetics, and that too can cause huge evolutionary change.
On a larger scale, the amount of stress that Americans are going through now, because of Trump—there is going to be an evolutionary consequence.