Re: milk and sociobiology
25 Jan 1997 16:43:01 +0200 wrote:

> (Robert Snower) wrote:
> > (Gerold Firl) wrote:
> >
> >>Here is an interesting question: did the genes for lactose tolerance
> >>diffuse outward from a single source, or did evolution locally selec
> >>for it in areas where cattle were kept for meat? Actually, both
> >>processes undoubtedly occured, but which was faster?
> >
> >To me the more interesting question is, why did the lactose
> >intolerance develop? And when? And why was it adaptive?
> >
> You have it backwards. Lactose "intolerance" is the *normal* mammalia
> condition. Humans who can digest milk after weaning are the oddballs.
> It is closely related to the rise of dairy farming; as a mutation it
> was probably neither harmful nor beneficial as far as differential
> reproductive success goes, but certainly valuable in a cultural contex
> It is only a certain Eurocentric bias that leads us to assume that not
> being able to digest milk is somehow strange. The vast majority of hu
> now and in the past has managed very well, thank you, not being able
> to drink milk once it wasn't necessary to do so (i.e. after about 4 ye
> of age).
> Deb
> >Best wishes. rs

The last I heard about lactose intolerance in Finland, there were
some 8% among the swedish-speaking population (who mainly derive
from Sweden from about AD 1200) and 17% among finnish-speakers (same
white European folks). There was, however, earlier mixing with
some western immigrants on the coastal area.

Milk had no importance in our living, for the cows usually did not
produce in winter due to scanty fodder. Butter was the main product
in summer. Cattle, in general, came here late, compared to
surrounding areas and dairy products had never the importance which
they had in Sweden, for instance. It is reflected in the tax catalogs
from the late medieval, when we had villages of the 'Swedish rights'
who paid in butter, and 'Finnish rights' who paid in crops.

I believe that the real numbers for lactose intolerance in Finland
are higher, for half the people I know have troubles with milk. I
do myself. It's severity varies, but when bad, it causes vomiting
and inflammation of the gut, and totally prevents the use of milk.
Even sour milk, which is commonly used here, won't do then.

Aila Korhonen in Finland