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Prof. Dr. Reinhard Renneberg
 Prof. Dr. Reinhard Renneberg

The Warrior Gene

I'm a peaceful individual. At least, that's what I thought. I also love quick and clear decisions. Hong Kong is the perfect place for me. Emails are answered here before they've been read. The slow German pace makes me feel edgy

Accordingly, when the Swiss genetic testing company iGENEA offered to test my 'MAOA gene', I agreed without a moment's hesitation. The MAOA-L gene variant increases the appetite for risk, but also allows a person to better estimate the likelihood of success in critical situations. MAOA is the A variant of the monoamine oxidase enzyme. This enzyme breaks down neurotransmitters, which are substances that transmit nerve impulses in the body, e.g., dopamine.

The L in MAOA-L stands for 'low'. The enzyme is produced only in small amounts. Accordingly, less dopamine is broken down; its concentration remains high. The body is subjected to enormous tension.

But is something like this in the interests of society?

Absolutely, human behaviour is very complex and affected both by genes and by conditions. That is why researchers refer to higher or lower risk. To try to predict propensity for violence or combative spirit with simple genetic tests would be somewhat short-sighted.

And what is the case with me?

iGENEA has confirmed that I have three copies of the gene. So, I'm a born General! I don't believe in dying a hero's death for my country. In fact, I'm quite unmilitary-minded...

That's why I'm now interested in another gene combination: the 'avoidance of errors' mutation. How strong is my ability to learn from mistakes? The result should be ready in four weeks.

Heretical thought: Ought not at least bankers, and especially future commanders-in-chief of the armed forces of all countries, undergo the latter genetic test?

Hongkong, 01.02.2014