This story might freak you out. So put the kids to bed, close the door, and make sure no nosey neighbors are watching.

Okay. Imagine you and I are evil scientists. We want to know what happens when we mate a 6 ft 4 in-tall blonde Swede male with a 4 ft 5 in-short Mbenga Pygmy tribeswoman from the Congo. We obtain the offspring, a child somewhere in between mom and dad. Once it reaches sexual maturity, we mate this Swede-Pygmy with yet another Pygmy, but this time chosen for the shortest stature among this short race. We repeat this process several more times over several more generations. We also introduce mates that have other characteristics, such as resistance to malaria or hairlessness. We also ignore some of the unexpected genetic characteristics that emerge, such as peculiar facial features, impaired intelligence, or unique metabolic derangements.

Then the really creepy part starts. We mate our Swede-Pygmy descendant with some non-human primates, such as an orangutan. The offspring are not always viable, but that’s not our concern. We just keep our creations alive with whatever artificial means are required. We also take pregnant mothers and expose them to chemicals that induce mutations in the developing fetus in utero, and use gamma radiation and high-doses of x-ray, also to induce mutations. Most of the mutations are grotesque and non-viable. But, every so often, we are lucky and the mutant survives. It may be really weird looking and have peculiar health problems, but that’s also not our concern.

At the end of this process, repeated over and over again, what do we call the poor creatures we’ve created? We can’t call them Swedish humans. We can’t call them Pygmies. They are some artificially-created thing that bears no name, no resemblance to anything that occurs in nature because we used unnatural methods to create it. But maybe it’s a 3-foot tall creature that, permitted some mix of synthetic food for sustenance, provides some unique service that we’ve sought, e.g., climbing trees to harvest coconuts.

Thankfully, nobody outside of Nazi Germany conducts such horrific practices in humans and our close primate relatives. But such practices are commonplace in plant genetics.

Apply something similar to wheat of the early 20th century, repeated crossings to winnow out specific characteristics like short stature, ease of release of the seeds, extreme oil production to discourage birds, resistance to mold and fungi; occasionally mate with non-wheat grains to introduce entirely unique genetic characteristics; and expose the seed or embryo to chemical or radiation mutagenesis to induce random mutations that occasionally are useful . . . well, those are the techniques used that companies like BASF like to call “traditional breeding methods.” These are the methods that lobbyists for the wheat industry, such as those at the Grain Foods Foundation, hide behind because there is no gene-splicing technology used as in modern genetic modification techniques.

So the truth of it is that “traditional breeding methods” used to create modern semi-dwarf, high-yield strains of wheat are worse than genetic engineering–cruder, less controllable, much less predictable, with consequences outside of the intended characteristic. Yet it makes it to your supermarket shelf, your dinner table, your gastrointestinal tract–no questions asked.

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54 Responses to Freak

  1. Christina says:

    Interesting. Do you know if there was a change in the strain of wheat recently? I have two younger sisters and about 2008/2009 we all started having digestive problems. I always felt sick after eating and eventually connected it with lactose and cut out all dairy products. One sister also went lactose free (this the one who used to drink a glass of whole milk every day) and the other had her gallbladder removed and now cannot eat anything.

    I’ve been attempting gluten free for about 2 months now, but have not been doing well. It’s in so much stuff and I get the feeling there is more of it hidden in products as some term I cannot pronounce. I have noticed a increased tolerance to lactose (hard cheese and yogurt) – but other than that I’ve felt very sluggish and tired. Perhaps I’m just trying this at the wrong time of year since I suffer from SAD as well.

    “Thankfully, nobody outside of Nazi Germany conducts such horrific practices in humans and our close primate relatives.”

    Sadly this is not true. Labs around the world have been trying to do human cloning and create chimeras for years on embryos. I can’t remember if it’s legal or not in the US.

    • Christina says:

      I take that back, attempting gluten free failed because I was simply eating a lot of Chinese food (which I assumed would not have gluten). Since I don’t have time to cook I guess I’ll be living on almonds, hummus and veggies for a while :-/

  2. Juan says:

    Just curious, are there any “heritage” varieties of wheat that don”t have the detrimental effects of this frankenwheat? Will I never be able to enjoy another chocolate chip cookie? That”s my main concern. LOL.
    Seriously, are there no longer any non-GMO wheat seed varieties out there? What about producers of non-GMO wheat? Is old fashioned non-GMO still bad for the body? Thanks!

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