Full text: Problems in eugenics

A. Mjoén.Medicine and Eugenics.353 
THE EFFECT OF ALCOHOL ON THE GERM-PLASM. 
(The New Alcohol Legislation in Norway.) 
By Dr. Alfred Mjoen. 
The paper not being available for publication, an abstract of it is given. 
The injurious effect of alcohol depends not only upon the amount taken, 
but also upon other factors, as, e.g., upon its dilution, and upon the kind 
of nourishment taken with it. There can be no doubt that alcohol under 
a certain percentage neither injures nor can injure either the somatic cells, 
or what is more important for race-hygiene, the germ cells. And, on the 
other hand, it must be regarded as proved that alcohol over a certain per­ 
centage is injurious to the quality of the offspring, not alone where the 
mother drinks (influence upon the embryo), but also where the father alone 
is a drinker (destruction of the germ). The latest investigations in this 
field confirm this assumption. 
There is, it is true, a middle class of beverages whose influence upon the 
germ-plasm (posterity) has not been established, or can be established at all. 
As a general rule, one may lay down the rule: The injurious effect of an 
alcoholic beverage upon individuals or race increases from a certain per­ 
centage progressively with its increasing contents of alcohol. 
Therefore, I propose to divide alcoholic liquors into classes, and to deal 
with them according to the amount of their contents of alcohol, i.e., accord­ 
ing to their injuriousness. 
All casks, bottles, etc., coming into the market are to be furnished with 
the class-mark (e.g., I., II., III., branded upon the cord). 
For example, in the case of beer, the first class (under 2|%), shall be 
obtainable everywhere. For this class there will be claimed, besides a 
reduction of duty, also a facility for sale and some concessions. Class I. 
(up to 2\/a) will be charged with 2 ore; Class II. (2^—3f%) with 8 ore; 
and Class III. (3!—5%) with 15-16 ore per litre. Beer over 5% or 5^% 
will be prohibited^). 
The class system permits of a simple, cheap, and practicable control, and, 
indeed, a control which is not confined to the brewery or to any single stage 
of preparation, but which follows the article over the whole country from 
its origin to its consumption. When alcoholic drinks are marked with 
their class and placed under State control, the consumers will themselves 
easily exercise the control. And the public will gradually become accus­ 
tomed to form an opinion upon the influence of the various articles upon 
the working capacity and the health, not only of the individual, but also of 
(1) This proposal was favourably received by the Norwegian minister Knudsen, 
and brought before the Storthing as a Government measure. The proposal has been 
accepted as part of the election programme of the Radicals, the Socialist Democrats, 
and all total abstinence organisations.A A
	        

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