There is no shortage of confusion in the world of grains, much of it due to the half-truths and smokescreens thrown up as damage control by the grain industry. After all, the world of grains in North America is a trillion dollar per year business—just a drop of a few percentage points in demands can spell billions of dollars per year in reduced revenues.
But the story behind the changes introduced into wheat and grains by geneticists and agribusiness are really relatively straightforward. Be armed with accurate information so that you are not lulled by their marketing tactics to ever wander back and lose all the health gains you have made.
Here is another excerpt from the Wheat Belly Total Health book, the Wheat Belly book that lays out the entire collection of arguments against wheat and grains, both modern and traditional.
“The seeds of grasses, known to us more familiarly as ‘grains’ or ‘cereals,’ have always been a problem for us non-ruminant creatures. But then busy geneticists and agribusiness got into the act. That’s when grains went from bad to worse.
“Readers of the original Wheat Belly know that modern wheat is no longer the 4½-foot tall traditional plant we all remember; it is now an 18-inch tall plant with a short, thick stalk, long seed head, larger seeds, yielding many times more per acre than traditional predecessors. This high-yield strain of wheat, now the darling of agribusiness, was created prior to the methods of genetic modification, created instead by repetitive hybridizations, mating with non-wheat grasses to introduce new genes (wheat is a grass, after all), and the methods of mutagenesis, the use of high-dose x-ray, gamma rays, and chemicals to induce mutations. Yes: modern wheat is, to a considerable degree, a grass that contains an array of mutations, some of which have been mapped and identified, many of which have not. Such uncertainties never faze agribusiness, however. Unique mutated proteins? No problem: The USDA and FDA say they’re okay, too, perfectly fine for public consumption.
“Over the years, there have been many efforts to genetically modify (GM) wheat, i.e., use gene splicing technology to insert or delete a gene. However, public resistance has dampened efforts to bring GM wheat to market, so no wheat currently sold is, in the terminology of genetics, ‘genetically-modified.’ (There have been recent industry rumblings, however, that make the prospect of true GM wheat a probable reality near future.) All the changes introduced into modern wheat are the results of methods that predate GM. This does not mean that the methods used to change wheat were benign; in fact, the crude and imprecise methods used to change wheat, such as chemical mutagenesis, have potential to be worse than genetic modification, yielding a greater number of unanticipated changes in genetic code than the handful introduced through gene-splicing (Batista 2008).
“Corn and rice, on the other hand, have been genetically modified, in addition to undergoing changes that predate GM. Genetic-modification of corn, for instance, introduced genes to make it resistant to the herbicide glyphosate and for Bacillus thurigiensis (Bt) toxin that kills insects, while rice has been genetically-modified to make it resistant to the herbicide, glufosinate, and to express beta carotene (‘Golden Rice’). Problem: While, in theory, the notion of just inserting one silly gene seems simple and straightforward, it is anything but. The methods of gene insertion remain crude. The site of insertion—-which chromosome, within or alongside other genes, disruption of epigenetic effects that control gene expression, etc.—-cannot be controlled with current technology. And it’s misleading to say that only one gene is inserted, as the methods used usually require several genes to be inserted. (We the nature of specific changes in GM grains is discussed in the next chapter.)
“Wheat, corn, and rice—-50% of the human diet in the 21st century—-are not the wheat, corn, and rice of the twentieth century. They’re not the wheat, corn, and rice of the Middle Ages, nor of the Bible, nor of the Egyptian empire, nor the same as that harvested by those early hungry humans. They are what I call ‘Frankengrains,’ hybridized, mutated, genetically modified to suit the desires of agribusiness, now available at a supermarket, convenience store, or school near you.”