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Wheat Foods Council Points Out Inaccuracies in National Geographic Article on Wheat and Celiac Disease

Date Posted: April 11, 2013

The Wheat Foods Council (WFC) is taking National Geographic to task for numerous inaccuracies about wheat, wheat breeding and celiac disease in an article entitled “Gut Reactions” appearing in the April 2013 issue.

In a letter to editor Chris Johns on behalf of the WFC, Dr. Brett Carver, Wheat Genetics Chair at Oklahoma State University and chair of the US National Wheat Improvement Committee, characterized the article as “a very one-sided, inadequate coverage of an extremely complicated issue.”

Calling on the magazine to be “a voice for common sense and reason about providing food to the world,” Dr. Carver set the record straight, explaining that there is very little difference between modern wheat and older varieties in terms of protein content and that contrary to “urban myths,” wheat has not been genetically engineered nor has it been turned into a plant different from the one ancient civilizations – or even our grandparents – used to eat.

Instead, Dr. Carver pointed out that wheat, as the majority of all food plants in the world, has undergone farmer selection and traditional breeding over the years.

“The kinds of protein (and gluten) present in today’s varieties mirrors the composition present throughout the domestication of wheat” he stressed.

He further explained that people do not get celiac disease because of increased contact with gluten.

“Only those who have a celiac disease gene can acquire celiac disease.

"It is not proven, but one theory suggests that increased exposure to gluten may cause the disease to manifest itself in genetically at-risk individuals,” he added.

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