Gluten Free wheat seems like an oxy-moron, especially if you have Celiac disease. Wheat is the epitome of gluten and exactly what you are suppose to stay away from when living a strictly gluten free lifestyle. So I do not expect many people with Celiac disease to be lining up to try this new gluten free wheat.
Chris Miller, from the company Engrain, the senior director heading up the Kansas Wheat Commission research project states, “If you know you are producing a crop that is not tolerated well by people, then it’s the right thing to do.”
Is it the right thing to do for our health or is it the right thing to do because the wheat industry wants to tap into the almost billion dollar gluten free market that is on the rise? 1 in 133 people have Celiac disease, yet none of us were being heard before gluten free became such a fad. No one was paying attention to the need for better food until a price tag was added and the market exploded. Now all of a sudden the Kansas Wheat commission is worried about how we feel?
Wheat is the third largest crop grown in the United States, but the number one grain used in human consumption and there are 6 different varieties grown. According to the National Association of Wheat Growers, Kansas is the number one wheat producer in the United States, “producing enough wheat each year to bake 36 billion loaves of bread. This is enough to feed everyone in the world, over six billion people, for about 2 weeks. An acre of Kansas wheat produces enough bread to feed nearly 9,000 people for one day.”
According to the Kansas Farm Bureau, wheat is also commonly used in:
Straw particle board (wood) – used in kitchen cabinets
Biodegradable golf tees
Adhesives on postage stamps
Biodegradable plastic eating utensils
Engrain is the company working with the Kansas Commission to research how to create gluten free wheat that can be tolerated by Celiac’s, their motto is, “At Engrain, our philosophy is simple: we want to bring the latest advances in enzyme technology to our customers to help them save money and increase their profits.”
I must have missed the part in their ‘About Us’ page that states anything about them being such humanitarians. Excuse my sarcasm, but I am not interested in GMO wheat of any kind, but I cannot say the same for the Wheat Food Council who thoroughly embraces genetic modification and sees it as the wave of the future.
“An even bigger change in the wings is the controversial advent of genetically-modified wheat… There is no genetically-modified wheat in commercial production in the U.S. but researchers are looking at ways to breed wheats better able to withstand pests and drought and produce more with less pesticides on smaller parcels of land to feed ever-increasing populations.
The U.S. wheat industry is committed to the adoption of a nationally and internationally accepted definition of biotechnologically-derived traits and urges the harmonization of scientific standards and trade rules. The national wheat industry recognizes the great promise it believes the technology will deliver to benefit both the consumer and the producer.”
Gluten consumption does not just affect people with Celiac disease, people with gluten sensitivities are popping up more and more everyday. Maybe it is what companies have done with the wheat that is making so many sick and the Kansas Wheat Commission should invest their money in getting back to the basics instead of trying to find ways to make more money. That is, if it really is “the right thing to do”.
Here is a recent article by the Associated Press on Engrain and the Kansas Commission.
Farmers fund research to breed gluten-free wheat
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farmers are paying for genetic research to figure out exactly why some people struggle to digest wheat.
The hard science is aimed at developing new varieties of wheat at a time when the gluten-free industry is worth nearly a billion dollars a year in the U.S. alone.
The Kansas Wheat Commission is spending $200,000 for the first two years of the project, which is meant to identify everything in wheat’s DNA sequences that can trigger a reaction in people suffering from celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which eating even tiny amounts of gluten – comprised of numerous, complex proteins that gives dough its elasticity and some flavor to baked goods – can damage the small intestine.
The only known treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet free of any foods that contain wheat, rye, and barley.
“If you know you are producing a crop that is not tolerated well by people, then it’s the right thing to do,” said the project’s lead researcher, Chris Miller, senior director of research for Engrain, a Kansas company that makes products to enhance the nutrition and appearance of products made by the milling and cereal industry.
Though celiac disease is four to five times more common now than 50 years ago, only about 1 percent of the world’s population is believed to suffer from it, and just a fraction have been diagnosed. But the gluten-free food business has skyrocketed in the last five years, driven in part by non-celiac sufferers who believe they are intolerant to gluten and look for such products as a healthier alternative.
Sales of gluten-free snacks, crackers, pasta, bread and other products reached $973 million in the U.S. in 2014, up from $810 million the previous year, according to a January report by the consumer research firm Packaged Facts, which analyzed the sales of hundreds of explicitly labeled and marketed gluten-free products and brands at supermarkets, drugstores, and mass merchandisers.
Understanding the causes of celiac disease and gluten intolerance is the goal of a lot of research around the world; Some focuses on human diagnosis and treatment, and others have identified about 20 of the protein fragments in wheat that causes celiac reactions.
But no one has identified all of them, or bred a variety of wheat that is safe for celiac sufferers to eat.
“We are hoping to be one of the first to establish this comprehensive screening of reactive proteins in wheat,” Miller said.
An expert on celiac disease who reviewed Miller’s plan online worries that it may prove “too simplistic,” and fail to identify all the toxic sequences that can trigger a celiac reaction.