Wheat is NOT "genetically-modified"

Alright. The Wheat Lobby has its lackeys out there, countering the Wheat Belly arguments by saying things like, “Davis says that wheat is genetically-modified and it’s not. So how much more can you believe of what he says?” (This Amazon review, for instance, looks and smells like somebody with chaff on his shoes.)

Well, I never said that, in the language of the geneticists, wheat was “genetically-modified.” Let me get this perfectly clear, Mr. Wheat Is Good For You: MODERN COMMERCIAL WHEAT IS NOT GENETICALLY-MODIFIED . . . and I never said it was.

“Genetic modification,” in the slippery terminology of genetics, means that a gene or partial gene sequence was inserted or deleted using gene-splicing technology. While current research efforts continue to work on genetically-modified wheat, e.g., herbicide-resistance and reduction of celiac disease-provoking sequences, such GM-wheat is not currently on the market.

Modern wheat has been hybridized (crossing different strains to generate new characteristics; 5% of proteins generated in the offspring, for instance, are not present in either parent), backcrossed (repeated crossing to winnow out a specific trait, e.g., short stature), and hybridized with non-wheat plants (to introduce entirely unique genes). There are also chemical-, gamma-, and x-ray mutagenesis, i.e., the use of obnoxious stimuli to induce mutations that can then be propagated in offpspring. This is how BASF’s Clearfield wheat was created, for example, by exposing the seeds and embryos to the industrial chemical, sodium azide, that is highly toxic to humans.

By definition, hybridization, backcrossing, and mutation-inducing techniques are difficult to control, unpredictable, and generate plenty of unexpected results. In short, they are worse than genetic-modification. Imagine we were to apply similar techniques of hybridization and mutagenesis to mammals–we’d have all manner of bizarre creatures and genetic freaks on our hands. I am no defender of genetic-modification, but it is pure craziness that Agribusiness apologists defend modern wheat because it is not yet the recipient of “genetic modification.”

Just as Agribusiness is lobbying to prevent truth in labeling that proposes to require food manufacturers to include a “genetically-modified” declaration on foods since they feel it is none of your business, they are likewise muddying the water by defending modern high-yield, semi-dwarf strains of wheat, created through extensive genetics manipulations, as not the product of “genetic modification.”

I say “tomato,” you say “tomaato.”

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Danielle

    Hello and Great Day Dr. Davis!

    First, I want to thank YOU for your knowledge and your book. I am LIVING PROOF that wheat is addictive. I am happy to say that I have been wheat free for 17 days…and I HAVE NEVER felt better! It is amazing what your body can do without wheat! No more pain, no fatigue, no headaches, and NO MORE WHEAT BELLY!!
    I actually saw a D.O. who focuses on the natural health before medicine…and she directed me to refrain from wheat, gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and artificial flavors, preservatives, and sweeteners…except Stevia and brown rice syrup…and a few others. I did not start reading your book until after day 10 (of 28) and I am floored at what a difference it has made in my well being! I am proof…that you CAN do anything with the willpower behind it…and be wheat free! Now I feel like I can conquer the world!!!
    I was a wheat addict, apparently. I had no clue why…but man…wheat called my name constantly! I now find that I do NOT crave or desire to add it back again.
    Thank you for your knowledge and you are absolutely 100% right. Wheat diminishes endorphins…and now I have them back. :)
    Happy, healthy and full of zest…because of my D.O. and YOU! Thank you, thank you! From my whole (grain) heart! Bless you!

  2. Courtney

    Hello Dr. Davis,

    You mentioned that “modern wheat is the product of methods that pre-date genetic modification–crude, unpredictable methods” and that pretty much all wheat today is the product of these methods. Do you know of any places at all that sell wheat that are untouched by these methods?

  3. Niah

    Are there any countries where wheat hasn’t been tampered with to the extent of North America? Where I could eat wheat without gaining weight or feeling gluten senstitive?

    • Dr. Davis

      Nowhere!

      It might be better in selected areas, but there is no place on earth where wheat is actually healthy.

      • Sharleen

        You talk about some farmers in the book as growing the old wheat and how you made bread from it and tested yourself and found that it did not cause the same reactions as the modern wheat. This is confusing because if this is so then why can’t people buy flour produced from the old wheat and make their own breads, pasta and other and still become more healthy?

        I don’t get why you are now saying there is no place in the world that has good wheat yet you speak of a particular farmer out east where you purchased this ancient wheat and tested it to see the body’s reaction.

        • Boundless

          > … old wheat … and found that it did not cause the same
          > reactions as the modern wheat.

          Heirloom wheats may not contain some of the novel toxins of modern wheat, but they still contain gluten (emmer contains even more gluten than modern) and all wheats, of any epoch, are high glycemic carbs.

          Eating wheat is a 10,000 year old bad bargain, which became a disaster in the late 20th. The answer is not to go back to the bad bargain, but to renegotiate the entire deal.

          > .. why can’t people buy flour produced from the old wheat
          > and make their own …

          You can. We did, briefly. It’s a needless and expensive distraction. The wider content of WB is low-carb, and gluten-bearing grains have no place on the menu. Grains generally are a problem, carb-wise.

          > … purchased this ancient wheat …

          If you want to indulge in the distraction, be sure to ask for a genetic analysis of the purported ancient wheat. If the seller can’t provide it (and they usually can’t), there’s strong chance the strain merely looks old (morphology) but is cross-contaminated with modern strains.

  4. Sharleen

    I would like to know if it is ok to buy non-genetically modified wheat flour directly from farmers that grow Kamut Khorasan Wheat or other wheat that has not been genetically modified? There are some farmers that claim to be growing ancient wheat.

    Please let me know your thoughts on this.

    Thank you,
    Sharleen

  5. steve mead

    RE: “Grains are the mistake of civilization”
    Would you consider rice a grain? The Japanese (and especially Okinawans) are long-lived and rice is a staple of their diet. I’m curious what your opinion is on rice.

  6. Today was the first day I heard that wheat was never genetically modified. Sounds like a technicality to me, since wheat has been “messed with” by the almighty “Monsanto” and it doesn’t matter what they call it — hybridized or gmo’d. It’s all toxic.
    I was one of those wheat addicts — and when I was told to get off wheat in the 1980′s I resisted. It wasn’t until I got really sick that I took that statement by a naturopath seriously.
    In 2005, I finally got serious with becoming wheat-free and immediately lost 15 pounds, mostly from my belly. I had great outbreaks of eczema, which from that time, vanished from my body — that is, until now. Again, I find myself breaking out with eczema and I don’t know what to eliminate next — because I AM WHEAT FREE.
    Then again, if I read the food labels, I see that corn is found in almost everything. Not to mention, there are “hidden” toxins that don’t identify their source.
    Any suggestions about what to look out for would be greatly appreciated!
    Great information on your blog!

    • Dr. Davis

      Well, I don’t want you to interpret any of my comments as an endorsement of ANY form of wheat, Tom.

      Ancient or traditional forms of wheat are indeed less harmful than modern semi-dwarf strains, but they are NOT benign.

    • Boundless

      > … real original wheat flour …

      There are any number of sources that purport to offer such flours. I say purport because unless they can supply a credible genetic analysis, there’s a good chance their strains have ancient morphology (merely look like), but are in fact cross-contaminated with modern menace strains. Heirlooms are also expensive. They also still contain gluten (emmer has more than modern). They may contain other wheat toxins.

      In addition to enhanced toxicity, modern semi-dwarf hybrid wheat represented an astonishing advance in yield, and a field resiliency that reduced production costs. This resulted in it becoming a cheap pervasive commodity that allowed a dramatic increase in wheat consumption. It’s so cheap that it contaminates (my estimate) over half of all packaged foods, plus a disturbing number of non-food items. Even though, as Dr. Davis puts it “… are indeed less harmful than modern …”, if you consume a [real] heirloom at the same rate as modern, the health consequences aren’t going to be substantially less destructive.

      Our family bought some einkorn flour early on. It’s a temporary (and costly) distraction on the road to low-carb grain-free.

  7. Kelly Connolly

    If we should avoid hybridized wheat, should we avoid all hybridized plants? Not sure where to find heirloom apples for example.

    • rlichter

      If you’re fortunate enough to have access to a Farmer’s Market, there is sometimes farmers selling heirloom apples.

    • Anthony

      Check out the seed savers organization. On a certified organic farm/orchard in Iowa, all sorts of heirloom fruits, vegetables, herbs and such are grown. You can purchase seeds of your own for very cheap.

  8. Duane

    I just read your book “Wheat Belly” about a month ago and read ABOUT it the 2 weeks before that, and I almost completely STOPPED eating wheat as soon as I read about it. I am almost 58 years old, 5’11″ and at 276 lbs, had a big wheat belly. I was so tired and sluggish and probably pre-diabetic. I have had a little wheat since then, a tiny piece of my daughter’s wedding cake and a couple more similar “cheats”.
    But, largely, I am no longer hungry all the time, I eat nuts, hard-boiled eggs, vegetables (which I always like before), and even admittedly, chocolate and even some potato chips. Nevertheless, I dropped to 262 lbs in little over 2 weeks, down to 252 in another 2 weeks, and 245 now. I am on my last belt loop and all my pants are just about falling down. I have run and played with my grandchildren, even the monkey bars at the park. I haven’t felt better in years and it’s only 6 weeks with some minor cheats. No real exercise, either, though I will soon. I have no cravings for wheat products and can go hours on end without eating anything and with just a little completely manageable hunger. Before, my stomach would ache constantly with gnawing hunger, even at night before bed. Pasta, bread, pizza, donuts. All that is gone and the hunger that goes with it. I am looking forward to taking off another 80 or 90 lbs. and coming in at around 160.
    I admit I was a little confused about the recent Monsanto news about releasing GMO wheat. I had also thought you said that is the problem with today’s wheat. But you explained it nicely in this blog article. Thank you for your research and contribution to the truth. I thank God that He allowed me to find this before I had serious health issues.
    This is my personal and unsolicited testimony. Just hope it helps someone else.

  9. Virginia

    Saw Judge Napolitano on Glenn Beck’s show. Just heard his blurb about the book “Wheat Belly” and how he lost weight. I didn’t need to lose more than about 5 lbs, but it was all in my belly. When I couldn’t tie my shoelaces without “pinching” in my stomach area, I knew fat was accumulating. Although I’m not a dessert, cookies, pastries, or pasta eater, my two slices of home baked bread, toasted, for breakfast, and all the other products I discovered had wheat in them, most probably contributed to the fat. Anyway, like Duane, I eat a small amt of pasta at dinners elsewhere, if it’s a one dish course. Or have a crumb of a cookie if it looks exceptionally tasty. Ordered ‘Wheat Belly” (2) and finished reading about 3 weeks ago. I’m 78 and have diabetes and what I read is helping me understand what activity goes on at the cell level. Don’t understand all the terms, but get the gist of the information. Thank you, Dr. Davis. (I’ve lost 5 lbs and my tummy is flattening, my voracious appetite is gone, and I’m feeling much energized).

    • Wiki is reporting that the rogue GM wheat has been positively identified as Monsanto MON 71800, a RoundUp-ready (glyphosate-resistant) strain field-tested in 1999 to 2005, but never marketed.

      Monsanto is claiming “sabotage”. There’s no further elaboration on what that means. I presume it means that someone with access to the seed, perhaps an in-house dissident, deliberately let it loose. Given that anti-GMO activists have just recently completely destroyed test plots of an Australian GMO wheat, that’s not inconceivable. It does seem unlikely that stray seed from a 2005 test would have reproduced in the wild for 8 years, undetected, then suddenly propagated to production fields in 2013.

      The discovery, plus the lawsuits for market disruption, will keep the focus on GMO for a bit. Not that it much matters, because a GMO wheat is not likely to be materially more toxic than the “non GMO” menace already on the market, which no informed sane person is consuming if they can help it.

  10. ljdr

    I stopped eating wheat 2 1/2 months ago. After 33 years my hands have finally healed. No more eczema, no more psoriasis. No more prescription medications, no more pain, no more burning under hot water to relieve the itch. Is the absence of wheat the cause of my health improvements? I can’t say for sure but that is the only thing I’ve changed in my life. I’m chalking my skin problems up to wheat!

  11. BMJ

    Hi everyone,
    The whole GMO wheat dispute is a bit of an odd one. The first commercial GMO crop was soy, the second was wheat. They were constructed in the 70′s by the USDA who distributed them freely to growers without restriction. Growers could plant them, save the seeds, replant the seeds, sell the seeds, whatever. They were true-breeding seeds, not the “terminators”, so replanting them was fine. Since government agenices don’t apply for patents, there was no threat of lawsuits. Growers liked the new seeds because they provided a much higher yield per acre. Later strains made by the USDA were drought-resistant, salt-tolerant, and insect resistant, and these were all distributed freely as always.
    Come around the early 90s (nearly 20 years later), people started to get a little creeped out by the GMO thing. Personally I don’t see a problem, but I do understand market demand. If you don’t have any buyers, you won’t be able to sell it. Around this time, Monsanto started behaving badly and have been ever since. Since they make the news a lot, people equate GMO=Monsanto=bad=bullies. But really, we had just fine and happy GMOs for a long time before that, but it never made the news because it never needed to.
    So, when the guy found GMO wheat in his field recently and everyone flipped, people missed the larger picture. What the farmer found was a *specific strain* of GMO wheat which hadn’t been cleared for sale. I think people misunderstood that to mean all other wheat was non-GMO, which wasn’t true at all. European countries and some Asian countries freaked out because they didn’t want to buy GMO wheat, but that what they’ve been buying for decades.

  12. Kay

    I’ve been off all wheat and gluten for 3 weeks. The first 5 days I was sick. Experienced fatigue, diarrhea, anxiety, crying spells and other things. This passed and I noticed a change in my appetite. Not grazing all day anymore. I’m not losing much weight , however. I’ve lost 7 pounds in total and still have a lot of soreness in my hands and joints. Am I hoping for results too quickly? Any thoughts?

  13. chan mac

    complete crap..
    Turns out our entire Wheat industry in the US is tainted by modified wheat. It has a gene that actually encourages weight gain :/.
    So tired of the lies…

    E.i as far as diet its WORSE then white.

  14. kazy

    What i had read was that the reason wheat in this country is so bad for you is because the Food Industry does not allow the wheat to “thrash”. Meaning it doesn’t give it the time it needs to rid itself of all its poisons and toxins and so it is picked before it has finished thrashing and those poisons and toxins are past onto us in the foods on our shelves. I had also read, that they don’t do that in Europe with their wheat. Currently I am trying to find out if I can purchase wheat from overseas.

    • > What i had read was that the reason wheat in this country is so bad for you is
      > because the Food Industry does not allow the wheat to “thrash”.

      Thrash is a UK English synonym for thresh, which nowadays is just the act of harvesting. Perhaps you are referring to the pre-combine practice of hand cutting, stooking and later threshing.

      > Meaning it doesn’t give it the time it needs to rid itself of all its poisons and toxins …

      I seriously doubt field-aging the hand-cut wheat has any material impact on the health hazards.

      > Currently I am trying to find out if I can purchase wheat from overseas.

      If consumed at the same rate as domestic wheat, expect no difference in health outcomes. You will expend extra money to learn this.

  15. Lila

    Please unravel the confusion. This page states that wheat is not genetically modified, however one of the pingback links posted here says it is. http://paleomagazine.com/paleo-why-wheat-is-unhealthy

    Are you only referring to gene-splicing version (on this page)?

    Thank you!

    4. It’s All Been Genetically Modified (GMO).

    The wheat industry claims up and down that the wheat you’re eating isn’t a GMO. That’s true only if GMO is limited to gene splicing.

    Almost 100% of the wheat in the United States has been genetically modified by hybridization (crossing different strains), backcrossing (repeated crossing), and mutagenesis (exposure to chemicals and gamma-rays). And in a way, those processes are worse than gene-splicing, because they create more unknown and unwelcome side-effects.

    If you have any interest in avoiding genetically modified foods, that means avoiding ALL wheat.

    • Bonnie

      By that logic, everything we eat has been genetically modified. You won’t find any of our cereal crops or other produce growing in the wild.

  16. Jackie

    I don’t really care what you call it. I cannot eat the wheat in North America without getting sick. I can eat wheat in Cuba, and Europe.
    So I don’t really care what it is called, me and thousands others cannot eat it without getting sick!

    • Precisely … i agree…if you get ill from it, you should not eat it. Only until recently have I found my own organism getting ill with wheat…and when I eat wheat abroad, I don’t have an issue. The genetic code for wheat has been manipulated to the point that it is poisoning our gut microbiome – the very essence of what gives us our immunity. Thank you for your post. It is very accurate.

      • Charlie Rader

        A huge amount of American and Canadian wheat is exported. Additionally, some wheat farmers abroad buy their seed from American companies. Also, many of the non-American seed companies have hybridized wheat, probably almost all of them. So if you want to avoid “modern” wheat, I would suggest that you be careful even when abroad.
        Also, there’s a huge variation among different kinds of wheat. Take hard white winter wheat and soft red spring wheat. You can interchange these terms any way you like, e.g. soft red spring wheat, and come up with eight variations. Unless you are comparing American X Y Z wheat with foreign X Y Z wheat, the comparison is meaningless.

        • Mary Baker

          Exactly. Most of the wheat grown in Europe is imported from the U.S. as bulk seed. It’s like my U.S. friends who insist they can’t drink U.S. wines without getting sick, but they can drink European wines. However, the EU has looser restrictions on levels of pesticides in wine (without those pesticides Burgundy would no longer exist) and Europe and Australia both have far looser restrictions on levels of copper.
          It might, however, as you say be a choice of the cultivar that is preferred in different countries. Also maybe a matter of dietary choices. Grains are more digestible in combination with certain foods, not so much with others. Need more tests, for sure.

  17. Jeanne

    This is what I know:

    I quit gluten less than 3 weeks ago.

    My stomach cramps are gone.

    The “Brain Fog” is gone.

    14 lbs are gone.

    I am no longer too tired to function.

    My joints are less sore due to Rheumatoid Arthritis.

    Did I mention that I feel better than I have in twenty years both mentally and physically?

    I would recommend to anyone with allergies or any auto immune disease to try this. It is not easy for me at 60 years old, having to re-learn cooking and baking but the effort is so well worth it. The frosting on the cake is is just took me 24 hours to feel fantastic. The fat on my huge belly is literally melting away!