Celiac disease is a medical condition characterized by gastrointestinal symptoms. It affects one
out of every 150 to 250 people in the U.S. Exposure to gluten – specifically the gliadin
component of gluten – in wheat-based foods triggers damage to the villi in the intestines. The
main treatment for the disease is complete avoidance of gluten in the diet. It appears that
companies are actively working to research and develop wheat varieties that would not cause
“allergic” reactions in people with celiac disease. This is probably being done through both
biotechnology and nonbiotech breeding programs.
It is unknown how the removal or
modification of gliadin in wheat varieties will affect yields and end-use performance.
If nonallergenic wheat with good agronomic and end-use performance could be developed,
initially it would likely be handled in a “closed-loop” system selling food products directly to
people with celiac disease. There would be a spatial problem in baked good distribution,
assuming people with celiac disease are evenly distributed around the country. One practicable
scenario would be for nonallergenic varieties to be contract-grown for a modest premium, milled
in a facility that was thoroughly cleaned of residue and baked near a limited number of large
metropolitan areas. Nonperishable food products could be sold through the Internet.
Over time, it is likely that the initial technology for developing nonallergenic wheat varieties
would become more widely licensed or additional methods would be developed. Eventually,
millers and other processors may require that varieties they purchase from farmers be
nonallergenic. At this point, the market volume will become very large, but any producer
premium will disappear.
Sounds fishy to me... I don't think I'd ever trust any kind of wheat at all. I don't even really miss it.