Epigenetics is real. But it doesn’t change everything. That needs to be said, because people seem to get the impression that everything is changed. In Trends in Genetics, Serving Epigenetics Before Its Time:
Society prizes the rapid translation of basic biological science into ways to prevent human illness. However, the premature rush to take murine epigenetic findings in these directions makes impossible demands on prospective parents and triggers serious social and ethical questions.
In their efforts to anticipate the eventual human applications of emerging areas of science, scholars of the ethical, legal, and social implications of genetics and genomics sometimes become too speculative to engage the immediate concerns of active scientists and policymakers. However, although evidence-based applications of human epigenetics may emerge in the future, premature epigenetic risk messaging is already here and its content and impact must be understood. The messages in circulation raise ethical and social concerns regardless of whether human epigenetic studies eventually confirm the murine results. Because the prospect for any successful human translation of epigenetic research depends as much on the management of these issues as on further human studies, they deserve close attention by all involved in their design, dissemination, and public consumption.
(the link is ungated)