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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