Slight differences are crucial

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 February, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 February, 2001, 12:00am

Your editorial of February 12 headlined, 'Biological myths exposed', asserts that a comparison of human and chimpanzee genes is likely to reveal 'the differences between man and other primates are only skin deep'.

In genetic terms there is clearly a great similarity between a man and a chimp. But the slight differences, as we all know, are crucial in human terms.

By the same token, though the genetic differences among the races of mankind may be tiny, it cannot be ruled out that they are also significant in human terms.

The latest evidence does not preclude the possibility that some races are more predisposed than others to produce, say, 100-metre sprinting champions or chess grandmasters.

You quote geneticist Dr J. Craig Venter as saying: 'We simply do not have enough genes for this idea of biological determinism to be right.' I doubt that this is the last word in the long-running nature-versus-nurture debate.