UPDATE: NRC clarifies no GMO wheat research in Canada

by David Fowler

According to the Calgary Herald, the National Research Council (NRC) plans to develop genetically modified wheat in Canada.  This stands at odds with the wishes of wheat growers.

The NRC says it is acting because Canada’s global market share is declining due to a lack of annual productivity. Growers have resisted the move saying GMO wheat is hard to market in Asia.

It’s hard to say what impact GMO wheat could have on those with Celiac and gluten sensitivity, but surely this is a significant development we’ll want to keep a close eye on.

Read the full article:   http://bit.ly/eZgVPu

As always, you can comment on this development using the comment feature below.

UPDATE April 7th:

I just received this update from CBAN, an anti-GMO group…

No GM Wheat research, says National Research Council.

Many people were rightfully alarmed to see media stories on April 3 reporting that the National Research Council was going to start research into GM wheat. The National Research Council has sent CBAN as statement to declare that they will NOT be pursuing GM Wheat research.

The reporter who wrote the story made assumptions that the type of research referred to in the memo was GM because of the language used, but the National Farmers Union and CBAN investigated and has secured a commitment that the NRC will not be researching GM Wheat. More information including the full statement from NRC is posted at http://www.cban.ca/wheat Please see below today’s press release. Please know that CBAN works with groups across Canada and around the world to monitor the industry push for GM Wheat. Thank you for your ongoing concern and action.

PRESS RELEASE

Canada’s National Research Council Disavows GM Wheat

Thursday, April 7, 2011. Yesterday, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) issued a statement to clarify that it has no plans to research genetically modified (GM) wheat.

NRC now states, “GM wheat is not an objective of the NRC wheat program. We will be developing a number of tools that will be used to reduce the breeding cycle, increase yield and adapt to climate stresses. GM varieties are not contemplated at this time.” The statement was issued in response to media stories of April 3 that reported on a leaked memo from the government research agency.

“NRC has finally recognized what everyone but Monsanto understands: that GM wheat is unacceptable to farmers and consumers,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.

Genetically modified crops are created through recombinant DNA technology (also called genetic engineering or transgenics), introducing genes from other species.

In 2004, Monsanto withdrew requests for government approval of its herbicide tolerant GM wheat in Canada and the US because of widespread farmer and consumer protest in both countries, and around the world. However, Monsanto re-launched research into GM wheat in 2009 and the biotechnology industry is now engaged in a new public relations campaign in favour of GM wheat.

Monsanto’s new plans for GM wheat are, however, meeting the same strong objections that defeated the company’s product in 2004. The Premier of Australia’s largest wheat growing state recently panned GM wheat, and Japanese flour companies continue to say that they will refuse to process GM wheat. In early 2010, 233 groups from 26 countries restated their opposition to GM wheat.

“Wheat improvements can and must happen without the use of transgenics. GM wheat would spell disaster for Canada’s wheat growers, just as GM alfalfa now threatens farmers across the country,” said Terry Boehm, President of the National Farmers Union in Canada.

“The costs to farmers from the GM flax contamination fiasco would pale in comparison to what would happen if GM wheat was introduced,” said Arnold Taylor, a grain farmer with the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate. GM flax was developed with public funds through the University of Saskatchewan and registered in Canada over the objections of flax farmers who succeeded in removing the GM flax from the market in 2001. In late 2009, Canadian flax exports to 36 countries were found contaminated with the GM flax, resulting in shut markets and economic loses to farmers.

Undeclared gluten in Hempola hempseed flour

ALLERGY ALERT –
UNDECLARED WHEAT GLUTEN IN HEMPOLA BRAND GLUTEN-FREE HEMPSEED FLOUR

OTTAWA, April 1, 2010 – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Hempola Inc. are warning people with allergies to wheat and gluten not to consume the Hempola brand Gluten-Free Hempseed Flour described below. The affected product may contain wheat gluten which is not declared on the label.

All lot codes of the Hempola brand Gluten-Free Hempseed Flour, sold in 454 g packages bearing UPC 6 23188 78923 1 are affected by this alert. This product has been distributed in Ontario.

There has been one reported allergic reaction associated with the consumption of this product.

Consumption of this product may cause a serious or life-threatening reaction n persons with allergies to wheat.

The manufacturer, Hempola Inc., Barrie, ON is voluntarily recalling the affected product from the marketplace.  The CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.

For more information, consumers and industry can call one of the following numbers:

Greg Herriott, Hempola Inc., at 416-587-1446;
CFIA at 1 800 442-2342 / TTY 1 800 465-7735 (8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern
time, Monday to Friday).

For information on Wheat, one of the nine most common food allergens, visit the Food Allergens web page at: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/labeti/allerg/allerge.shtml.

For information on all food recalls, visit the CFIA’s Food Recall Report at:
http://active.inspection.gc.ca/eng/corp/recarapp_dbe.asp.

Shedding Light On The Word “Wheat”

When you are gluten intolerant, you have to do your own research or verify what you read or hear. Don’t assume you know what a word or term means without actually looking it up. Wheat is the perfect example. Wheat likes to go incognito in food. The new labelling laws have helped, but they don’t cover every situation. And if you travel out of the country, the USA labelling laws don’t apply.

Just because something says it’s wheat-free doesn’t mean it has no gluten proteins. That’s a misconception some people have and it’s a dangerous one. For example, Kamut is a wheat family member. It has low gluten levels, but it does contain gluten, and Celiacs should not eat it. You look at the word Kamut and there’s no way to know it’s wheat unless you have learned the definition.

Another word for wheat is Spelt. Spelt is wheat – period. You should never eat anything with Spelt in it. But once again, you can’t look at the word and know its wheat. It’s a trick!

There are other words you should know because they’re safe ingredients as long as they’re not mixed with anything containing gluten. For example, Amaranth is an ancient grain and is usually eaten as a breakfast cereal.

Another tricky word that uses “wheat” is Buckwheat. Just to make matters completely confusing, Buckwheat is not wheat. Buckwheat is a fruit. How’s that for tricky? You can eat Buckwheat as long as it hasn’t been contaminated with wheat gluten in any way.

You can also eat Quinoa, Mochi, Teff and Tempeh. If you now feel as if we’ve just traveled the world through language – you’re right. Quinoa is an Incan word. Mochi is Japanese sticky rice. Teff is used in Ethiopian bread and Tempeh — well Tempeh is used around the world.

So take the time to learn your gluten and wheat terminology. You will find a little word power goes a long way in staying healthy.

Just like these words require a bit of digging to find out what they really mean the same goes for this soup recipe. You will have to dig a little deeper to find out what kind of soup it is.

Gluten-free Genetically Modified Wheat?

These days we’re hearing more and more about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) that are suppose to ward off insects, be more bountiful, increase nutrition, and use less water.

Is there hope that can help those of us with Celiac Disease?

Yes, says a January 9th, 2010 article in Food Safety News.

Dr. Diter von Wettstein

The article states that Dr. Diter von Wettstein of Washington State University has received a further $2 million in research grants to continue his research on GMO gluten-free wheat. Specifically, his research is currently focussed on removing the gliadins and gliadin-type prolamins from the gluten protein in wheat as it is the gliadins in the gluten protein that can’t be digested by Celiacs.

Apparently, research to date has already uncovered a lysine-rich barley mutant that lacks the gliadin-type and low-molecular-weight glutenins. The task is now to try to use genetic methods to remove the gliadins and low-molecular glutenins in similar wheat grain.

Arcadia Biosciences has been engaged by von Wettstein to screen a large variety of wheat to find gene mutants that affect the celiac-triggering protein types.