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.”

This entry was posted in Genetic changes, Hybridization, Hybridization techniques. Bookmark the permalink.

164 Responses to Wheat is NOT "genetically-modified"

  1. Dragan Matijevic says:

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    Do you know of any findings on sourdough breads and if theglutens in those are transformed into more healthy amino acids?
    Also, I would tend to agree with you that wheat has indeed been genetically modified but using other intensive intrusive methods. Can you please point me to any further reading on this.
    Thank you, Dragan

    • Dr. Davis says:

      No, this is a fiction. A modest reduction in components such as amylopectin A via sourdough fermentation does not disable all the other adverse aspects of this food.

      If you search this blog, you will find plenty of discussions about this issue of what methods were used. Looks especially at the techniques of “mutagenesis.”

    • sjkm says:

      Sourdough bread has a lower glycemic index than non-sourdough bread made from the same grain. That makes sourdough a healthier bread.

  2. john says:

    When Wheat is organic, does that mean it is not hybrid, GM, or any of those things that make it unnatural? Seems to me, if they can mess with symantics and still sell unknown or hazardous foods – our organic wheat foods may be suspect too ??? Any thoughts, can the farmers really know what they are planting, 100% sure ?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Organic makes NO difference, John: It still originates with the same semi-dwarf strain created by genetics research. It remains a poison, despite the lack of herbicide and pesticide used to grow it.

  3. Mike says:

    Hello Dr. Davis,
    My question is, is there any type of wheat that could be grown that does not have harmful effects to health? I am very willing and actually interested in growing my own food, and i understand semi-dwarf wheat and other hybridized strains are harmful. However, is there no type of wheat that could be bought that is not harmful to consume?
    -Thank you

    • Dr. Davis says:

      I think that there are strains of older forms of wheat that are LESS harmful than modern semi-dwarf wheat. But I do not believe there are any forms that are entirely benign and consistent with ideal health.

      Einkorn is the most benign, yet I believe it still has at least some of the adverse effects shared by all forms of wheat.

      • Matt says:

        As part of a diet, I cut out a number of foods a few weeks ago, including wheat products. The only flours I’ve eaten are from spelt or millet.

        I read on the internet (so it must be true) that while einkorn is not gluten-free, its characteristics are not as objectionable as those in the hybridized wheat grown today. Maybe, maybe not, but it seems to me that a non-hybridized product is better than one that has been so altered as to be a completely different product than when it started out.

        In any case, my question sis, are there are wheat flour products on the market today that are closer in their make-up to the non-modified wheat grown and eaten 50, 100, or 150 or more years ago. Or is hybridized wheat (even if grown organically) the only option?

        • Boundless says:

          > The only flours I’ve eaten are from spelt or millet.
          Spelt might as well be wheat.
          Millet is sky-high carbs (1 oz. is your meal limit of 15 grams net).

          > … einkorn is not gluten-free, its characteristics are not as
          > objectionable as those in the hybridized wheat grown …

          If it really is einkorn (can the seller back up that claim with genetic analysis confirming that a nearby plot of Monsanto Menace hasn’t cross-contaminated it?), then it may be slightly less harmful.

          But it still contains enough gluten to lay waste to a celiac or someone with acute non-celiac wheat sensitivity. And it’s still a sky-high carb. And you pay handsomely for the privilege of consuming this temporary distraction on the road to becoming grain free. We were there too.

        • Dr. Davis says:

          Yes, there are, though generally produced by small volume organic farmers.

          However, I don’t want you to perceive the Wheat Belly conversation as encouraging consumption of these less harmful, but not entirely harmless, forms of wheat. Wheat consumption has been problematic for humans for as long as we chose to compromise health with its consumption. It’s only gotten much worse due to the manipulations of agribusiness.

  4. Linda says:

    Niece got fibromyalgia and weight gain on US grown wheat. Went to Argentina and lived there for a year. Came back slim and painfree. Anyone know how to get hands on non-modified wheat?? I have purchased spouted wheat which doesn’t have the same effect on my body. Another author states that the lectins are destroyed when the wheat is sprouted and the body views it as a vegetable then. Still…..

  5. Linda says:

    Ooops! Just saw a post from Dr. Davis. Ok I’m off all of it. I see that sprouted wheat isn’t going to help me either. Thanks for the info.

  6. Amie says:

    What do you have to say about Heritage grain? Red fife for example.

  7. Louise says:

    A friend asked me if a person can benefit from just “cutting down” on wheat consumption. Does wheat have to be completely eliminated to get SOME benefit especially if they do not have Celiac Disease?

    • Boundless says:

      > … if a person can benefit from just “cutting down” on wheat consumption.
      Can a heavy smoker benefit by cutting back to a pack a day?
      Can an alcoholic benefit by cutting back to one drink a day?
      These are not mere metaphorical analogies.

      > Does wheat have to be completely eliminated to get SOME benefit especially if they do not have Celiac Disease?
      That sounds like the wheat talkin’.

      1% of the population is celiac. 90% of that 1% don’t know it. Unless tested, you can’t assume you aren’t celiac.

      Another 5% of the population are non-celiac but acutely wheat-sensistive. Even Big Grain(TM) admits this, and has no explanation.

      Any of these 6% react strongly to small, possibly even trace amounts of wheat.
      Cutting back won’t help them appreciably.

      For the majority, consuming small or modest amounts of wheat still exposes us to the addictive properties, and frequently triggers a complete relapse into carb gluttony.

      It also can keep the gut in malfunction mode, keep the weight on, keep the blood chemistry screwed up, and increase risk of inflammatory side effects. Pretty much all the problems associated with this toxin continue, just at a slightly lower level.

      Modern technowheat is not a human food. If you need a cheap ubiquitous filler, it’s safer to eat styrofoam.

      Cut wheat (and barley and rye) out altogether for a month. Don’t replace them with other high GI carbs. See what happens.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Read the many posts here, Louise, and you will see that cutting back on wheat is as effective as cutting back on cigarettes.

      The one post that covers this further is the “Safe Sex . . . on Weekends Only.”

    • Jim says:

      If you know something is toxic to your body why would someone want to continue to ingest it? Smoking is bad for you. Reducing tobacco intake is beneficial, but quitting is much better & will likely add years to ones life. All kinds of non-GMO flours are available for a little more money than the toxic stuff.

  8. Shirley Whitaker says:

    This is not a reply to the present topic but I have a 66 year old diabetic African American female with a family history of cerebral bleed and death of 2 of her siblings at the age of 68. She has clean carotids but her vascular supply to her occipital is very abnormal. She has been seen at Mass General’s Stroke Center in Boston Mass. Because of the location of her vascular abnormality she is not a surgical candidate. She is presently on Plavix and statin. I think the only way she can been treated is with diet change. She is presently on Ornish’s diet because of it’s past history of coronary improvement with his diet. Do you think changing to no wheat diet might be better for improving her cerebral vasculature? Any other recommendations. She is a walking time bomb. Both of her sibling died after a massive stroke at the age of 68. She is 66.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Sorry, Shirley, but I cannot comment, as I don’t know what you mean by “her vascular supply to her occipital is very abnormal.” Do you mean anomalous?

      I will say that nobody belongs on the Ornish diet or any other low-fat diet. This is not the diet that humans are evolutionarily designed to consume. The data that are often used to justify the diet are deeply flawed. You might consider taking a look at my Heart Scan Blog for commentary, though it goes back quite a ways.

  9. Rose Wilkins says:

    I find when I stop eating wheat, I do feel so much better but I have one problem. I get bad breath and I get a pain in my stomach (not bad just annoying). My doctor (ayear ago) thought wheat was causing my thyroid problem. Do you know why this happens?

  10. Megan says:

    Dr Davis, thanks for all your work. Can you tell me if it is ok to use wheat pasta that is made in Italy or is it all the same?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      There is a modest chance that the pasta from Italy may be made from an older or traditional strain of, say, farro, emmer, or a traditional strain of Triticum. But “less harmful” does not mean harmless.

      Modern semi-dwarf wheat is the absolute worst. Traditional strains are less harmful, but not healthy. Have you read my recent “Neolithic dentist” post? It highlights how even ancient grains exerted unhealthy effects. Grains are the mistake of civilization.

  11. Bill says:

    Okay, so to take this to a practical level, how do we modify a family diet with regards to the food pyramid our kids are taught is part of a healthy diet? We currently buy wheat berries grown by a small local farm, mill it ourselves, and make all kinds of things from it. We love this and your report was disturbing to say the least.
    If we are to discontinue wheat at all, then what do we replace it with and what should we be teaching our kids to choose? I mean are we to teach them to avoid all grains, seriously?

  12. SHawn says:

    Good afternoon Dr, my question is quite simple. Like many individuals I absolutely love bread with a passion. Is there such a thing as NON GMO’d flour that wouldn’t produce such a reaction in your body? I’m trying to figure out from your studies how you measured the differences in NON GMO’d wheat products and it’s affects with that of the GMO’d.

    Thank you every so much for taking the time to read my email.

    Shawn from Canada

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Several issues:

      1) NO commercial wheat is “genetically modified.” The Wheat Lobby use this argument to discredit Wheat Belly: “Davis says that wheat is genetically modified, when no wheat has been genetically modified.” I never said it was.

      2) Instead, modern wheat is the product of methods that pre-date genetic modification–crude, unpredictable methods that are, in many ways, WORSE than genetic modification.

      3) Virtually ALL wheat today is the product of the methods cited in #2.

      So there is no escaping this incredibly destructive creation of genetics research.

  13. Peter Epps says:

    Are Oats Genetically Perverted the same as other grains ?

  14. Danielle says:

    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!

  15. Courtney says:

    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?

  16. Niah says:

    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 says:


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

      • Sharleen says:

        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 says:

          > … 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.

  17. Pingback: The Wheat Belly Diet | TheWheatBellyDiet.net

  18. Sharleen says:

    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,

  19. steve mead says:

    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.

  20. satinka says:

    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!