permaculture_farmer's picture
Any response on the UCLA study that shows in order to increase wheat crop yields the amount of gluten produced would increase by as much as 4X the normal amount. This empirically suggests a cause and effect relationship between the large increase in gluten intolerance the country has seen and the use of GMO wheat crops, wouldn't you agree?

A:Expert Answer

We reached out to Bob Goldberg in the Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology at UCLA. Included below is his response to this question:


“There is no genetically engineered wheat grown anywhere in the world. Wheat was the first crop to be domesticated, ~10,000 years ago, by our ancestors. Gluten is a protein that is naturally found in wheat seeds and is used by the wheat plant when it germinates as a source of carbon and nitrogen for the growing seedling.  Dwarf wheat is not a GMO, as there is no genetically engineered wheat on the market or grown for animal or human consumption. It is true that some people are gluten intolerant―having an allergy to the gluten storage protein―similar to a peanut allergy, which is also due to a seed storage protein different from gluten. However, gluten intolerance has been known for a long time and is due to a natural protein, not a genetically engineered one. And there is little scientific evidence that the presence of gluten in wheat has caused an increase in obesity, because humans have been eating wheat seed byproducts (e.g., bread) for thousands of years. The increase in obesity can be attributed to many complex factors―one of which is an increase in calorie consumption regardless of source.”

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Transparency's picture

Gluten intolerance does not necessarily correlate to obesity, nor does the question ask about obesity, so I'm not sure why obesity is addressed in the expert's response. Gluten intolerance may actually lead to weight loss due to poor digestion.

It would be interesting to learn more about how hybridization of wheat has increased or altered proteins over time.