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November 21, 2014

What is all of the talk about?

A recent blog post titled “The Real Reason why Wheat is Toxic (and it isnt gluten)” by the Healthy Home Economist has stirred a lot of conversations regarding glyphosate-treated wheat or better known as applying herbicides like Roundup to wheat prior to harvest. The article alarmingly claims that Roundup herbicides are commonly doused on wheat crops a few days before harvest, linking glyphosate residues to the recent surge in Celiac disease and claiming wheat is now toxic.

Claim Vs. Fact

Claim 1: Wheat crops are doused or drenched in Roundup herbicides a few days before harvest.

Fact: It is not routine for U.S. wheat producers to use Roundup, or other formulations of glyphosate, for pre-harvest applications. Most of the states in the wheat belt have drier climates, so getting additional help in maturing out the crop from a desiccant, like Roundup, isn’t necessary as much of the field will dry out and ripen on its own.

Although Roundup is labeled for pre-harvest applications, there is a standard pre-harvest interval (PHI) of at least seven to 14 days before harvest can take place, if the herbicide is applied to the wheat crop. Glyphosate, the active ingredient of Roundup, is used to control perennial weeds, although a very small percentage of producers also use it as a desiccant to evenly ripen a field of wheat for harvest.

Fact: Plants are not “doused” in Roundup or its active ingredient glyphosate. Relatively small amounts of glyphosate are applied as weeds emerge. Think about it this way:

No more than 22 ounces per acre mixed with 3–20 gallons of water (depending on application) can be applied pre-harvest. One acre is relatively the same size as a football field (minus the endzones), or 43,560 square feet. If a farmer decided to apply Roundup and he put out 22 ounces mixed with 10 gallons of water on one acre, that would be equivalent to a Gatorade bottle (20 ounces) of Roundup mixed with 10 gallons of water spread evenly on the size of an entire football field. If you converted those 10 gallons of water into ounces that would equal 1,280 ounces. The concentration of the Roundup mix would only be 0.017 or 1.7% (22 ounces of Roundup in 1,280 ounces of water).

As stated in “The Truth About Herbicides in Wheat”  by Kansas Wheat, Anita Dille, Ph.D., a professor of weed ecology at Kansas State University states:

“The purpose of herbicides (like Roundup®) is for weed control. There are a number of different times that herbicides are put on for weed control. And often if you think of a wheat production system, it could be right before planting or right after planting if there’s weeds during the crop.”

So, the  majority of herbicide usage happens before, or shortly after planting. That is around eight to nine months prior to harvest and if the herbicide IS used prior to harvest, only a MINUTE amount is actually applied.

Claim 2: Glyphosate applications are not regulated.

Fact: It is important to remember that glyphosate is regulated and poses no concern with regard to human health. It is regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As mentioned above, no more than 22 ounces of herbicide mix can be applied per acre.

Farmers also regularly consult local seed companies and state extension offices to make sure certain farm practices are needed for operation success during the growing season. Practices that are available may not always be practical.

For more information, please reference the additional resources links.


National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) Vice President Brett Blankenship addresses recent concerns about the applications of the general herbicide Glyphosate and encourages consumers to reach out to farmers if they have any questions about their food.

Additional Links and Information:

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will be providing a wheat-based educational program during this year’s Amarillo Farm and Ranch Show, set for Tuesday, Dec. 2 at the Amarillo Civic Center, Grand Plaza Ballroom, 401 S. Buchanan St. in Amarillo.

The program titled – A Focus on Wheat in the Texas Panhandle – will begin at 1 p.m. and adjourn at 5:40 p.m. This will be a complete overview of wheat, including weeds, diseases, insects, breeding, fertility and plant growth regulators.

The program will have a $10 registration fee and offer four Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education units (CEU) – two general, one integrated pest management and one drift management – for pesticide applicators.  Four Texas Department of Agriculture and Certified Crop Advisors (CCA) continuing education units – two general, one integrated pest management and one drift management – will also be offered.

In addition to attending the wheat-based program, producers should also plan to attend the Farm Bill Analysis program that will be from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Dec. 2, with Dr. Steve Amosson, AgriLife Extension economist in Amarillo. Amosson will discuss farm bill provisions, sign-up requirements and deadlines. Amosson will also walk producers through the decision-aid tool developed by the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University, which is designed to help economically evaluate program choices.

For more information on any of these AgriLife Extension programs, contact Carr at 806-373-0713 or rncarr@ag.tamu.edu

Program Speakers:

  • Overview of Texas wheat and AgriLife Extension programs and a focus on new herbicides and application timing | Dr. Clark Neely – AgriLife Extension State Small Grains Specialist, College Station.
  • Plant growth regulators in wheat | Dr. Jourdan Bell – AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Amarillo.
  • Dealing with wheat disease management, fungicide, and diagnostics. “A focus on High Plains virus, barley yellow dwarf, and wheat streak mosaic” | Dr. Ron French – AgriLife Extension Plant Pathology Specialist, Amarillo.
  • Best management practices related to control of wheat pests. “A focus on wheat curl mites, Russian wheat aphids, and greenbugs” | Dr. Ed Bynum – AgriLife Extension Entomologist, Amarillo.
  • Effects of alternative hosts and mite movement during the growing season. The impact of temperature and water on diseases and viruses. The wheat virus early detection system | Jacob Price – Texas A&M AgriLife Research Senior Research Associate, Amarillo.
  • Breeding for resistance to Wheat Streak Mosaic and the introduction of TAM 204 | Dr. Jackie Rudd — AgriLife Research Wheat Breeder, Amarillo.
  • Impact of fertility and nitrogen on small grains, what does a soil sample mean related to fertility and nutritional management needs of wheat | Dr. Calvin Trostle – AgriLife Extension Agronomist, Lubbock.

November 10, 2014

Last week Texas Wheat traveled to Corsicana to present at the annual Navarro County Food and Fiber Roundup. The one-day event  held in the Navarro County Exposition Center invited elementary schools, primarily fourth graders, to learn about where their food and fiber comes from.

Six demonstration stations were set up around the exposition center and 763 fourth graders from across the county moved from station to station to learn about a specific part of the agriculture industry. Meredith DeBorde, Navarro County Agrilife 4-H agent, said the sole purpose of the roundup is to educate fourth graders, who are at an impressionable age, about where their food comes from in Navarro County and around the world.

Stations included a dairy cow milking demonstration, soil samples and information about cotton, corn and wheat. A swine and cattle station completed the round of education sessions. Katie Heinrich, director of communications and producer relations at Texas Wheat, taught the students about when and how wheat is grown, why there is different types of flour, and the small return farmers get from the sale of a common wheat product – a loaf of bread. Heinrich also showed non-food products made from wheat including school glue, hair conditioners and dog treats. Common food items, such as sphaghetti, cake and cookies were also presented. Heather Morris, daughter of Texas Wheat Producers Board member Gary Murhpy, helped organize and provide the wheat products for the presentation.

The students were served pizza for lunch and each station also showed where each ingredient in a pizza originates.

The roundup proved to be a successful event again this year and incorporates the rural setting of Corsicana with the young minds of students who may not have ever seen any type of agriculture production. The roundup also allows presenters to connect items the students use on a day-to-day basis with the agriculture products that are included in those items.

 

2014 Navarro County Ag Day 2

 

October 22, 2014

AMARILLO – Farmers and landowners in the Panhandle will have an opportunity to learn more about the farm bill in a second round of educational meetings conducted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. The series of meetings is cosponsered by the Texas Corn Producers, Texas Sorghum Producers, Texas Wheat Producers and the Plains Cotton Growers Associations.

The meetings will include FSA staff discussing farm bill provisions, sign-up requirements and deadlines. Farm program analysis will also be discussed by DeDe Jones or Steve Amosson, AgriLife Extension specialists. A demonstration of the online decision aid tool, developed by the Agricultural Food and Policy Center at Texas A&M University, will be performed using examples of producers who have already been through the decision aid.

All meetings are free and will start at 10:00 a.m. and will conclude at noon. An optional afternoon session will also be offered for producers wanting assistance in entering their data into the decision aid tool.

Those interested in the one-on-one assistance after lunch are asked to bring the following information (assistance in entering the data into the decision aid tool can not be performed without this information):

  • FSA Reported Commodity Crop History Summary
  • FSA 156 EZ Form (for those with cotton base only; not all producers will have this)
  • 2014 Schedule of Insurance for all crops
  • 2008-2012 Insurance APH History for all crops

Date

County

Contact

Location

November 3 Deaf Smith Rick Auckerman
r-auckerman@tamu.edu
Hereford Community Center
100 Ave. C
Hereford, Texas
November 4 Hall Josh Brooks
j-brooks@tamu.edu
Kathy Fowler Building
123 S. 6th St.
Memphis, Texas
November 6 Hall Josh Brooks
j-brooks@tamu.edu
Bob Wills Center
602 Lyles St.
Turkey, Texas
November 6 Hansford/
Hutchinson
Kristy Slough
klslough@ag.tamu.edu
First Baptist Church
123 S. Bernice
Spearman, Texas
November 11 Dallam/
Hartley
Mike Bragg
mhbragg@ag.tamu.edu
Rita Blanca Coliseum
FM 281
Dalhart, Texas
November 12 Moore Marcel Fischbacher
mhfischbacher@ag.tamu.edu
Moore County Community Bldg
1600 S. Maddox Ave.
Dumas, Texas
November 13 Wheeler Dale Dunlap
mddunlap@ag.tamu.edu
Wheeler Co. Ag & Family Life
7939 N. US HWY 83
Wheeler, Texas
November 17 Lipscomb JR Sprague
h-sprague@tamu.edu
Wolf Creek Heritage Museum
13310 Texas 305
Lipscomb, Texas
November 18 Sherman Alexa Reed
alexa.reed@ag.tamu.edu
Sherman County Barn
501 S. Maple St.
Stratford, Texas 79084
November 18 Potter Nathan Carr
rncarr@ag.tamu.edu
Texas A&M AgriLife Research &
Extension Center
6500 Amarillo Blvd West
Amarillo, Texas
November 19 Ochiltree Scott Strawn
sstrawn@tamu.edu
Ochiltree County Expo Center
402 Expo Drive
Perryton Tx
November 20 Randall JD Ragland
jdragland@ag.tamu.edu
Kuhlman Extension Center
200 Brown Rd.
Canyon, TX
November 25 Briscoe Tanner Young
tanner.young@tamu.edu
 Happy State Bank, Pioneer Rm
Main St.
Silverton, TX
December 4 Hemphill Andy Holloway
andy.holloway@ag.tamu.edu
Hemphill Co. Exhibition Center
10865 Exhibition Center Rd.
Canadian, Texas
December 5 Donley Leonard Haynes
l-haynes@tamu.edu
Church of Christ Family Center
300 S. Carhart
Clarendon, Texas
December 8 Armstrong Dustin Sanders
dustin.sanders@tamu.edu
Armstrong Co. Activity Center
FM Rd. 207 S.
Claude, Texas
December 10 Oldham  Austin Voyles
austin.voyles@ag.tamu.edu
Oldham County Barn
305 Coke St.
Vega, Texas
December 11 Roberts Michael Wilkes
mcwilkes@ag.tamu.edu
Roberts County Annex
122 Water St.
Miami, TX
December 16 Carson Jody Bradford
j-bradford@tamu.edu
 War Memorial Building
500 Main St.
Panhandle, Texas
December 17 Gray Brandon McGinty
b-mcginty@tamu.edu
Clyde Carruth Show Barn
in Recreational Park
Pampa, Texas
December 18 Collingsworth Katy White
Katy.white@ag.tamu.edu
Bura Handley Community Bldg
802 10th St.
Wellington, TX 79095

###

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will be providing farm bill education sessions beginning July 10 – Aug. 20 across the High Plains. Meetings are scheduled in 22 counties. Although sign-up for the new farm bill program is still months away, it is key to continue to help farmers understand the complexity of the new legislation, including new programs and coverage options for a successful sign up.

The county-level public meetings will explain general farm program provisions and provide a decision-aid demonstration from Dr. Steve Amosson, AgriLife Extension economist, or DeDe Jones, AgriLife Extension risk management program specialist. Meetings will last about two hours and are free to attend. AgriLife Extension agriculture and natural resources county agents will also aid in the instruction.

Both Amosson and Jones will lead a second round of county meetings tentatively scheduled for October and November to provide further details and guidelines before the sign-up period begins.

Click here or visit the “View All Events” on the home page to view the meeting schedule. For more information on a particular meeting, contact the AgriLife Extension office in that county. For a list of county offices, visit  http://amarillo.tamu.edu/.

The following wheat field days have been tentatively scheduled by Texas AgriLife Extension. The field days will feature tours of the uniform variety trials and update on ongoing and current research results.

**All information subject to change. We will be updating this list as information becomes available.

DATE

COUNTY

LOCATION

CONTACT

April 23 Uvalde 8:00 AM – Uvalde AgriLife Center Daniel Leskovar
April 24 Hill 9:00 AM – Brandon, TX | More Ryan Collett
April 25 McLennan 8:00 AM – McGregor, TX | More Shane McLellan
April 25 Bell 2:30 PM – TAMU Blackland Research Center Lyle Zoeller
April 29 Wharton 8:00 AM
May 1 Concho/McCulloch 8:00 AM – Millersview Gym Brady Evans
May 2 Taylor/Callahan 8:30 – Abilene | More Robert Pritz
May 5 Ellis 4:00 PM – Bardwell Mark Arnold
May 6 Lamar Paris Michael Morrow
May 7 Grayson Howe Chuck Jones
May 8 Collin 9:00 AM – Farmersville | More Ricky Maxwell
May 9 Cooke Muenster
May 14 Hardeman – AgriLife Field Day 8:25 AM – Chillicothe | More Info Steven Sparkman
May 15 AgriPro Lockett David Worrall
May 20 Ochiltree 10:00 AM – Perryton Scott Strawn

The 2014 Farm Bill contains significant changes to the farm safety net that include new options for producers. It will be important that growers educate themselves on all the facts in order to make informed risk management decisions that best suit their operation. As an initial look at these new provisions, the Ag and Food Policy Center, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, and the Southwest Council of Agribusiness have teamed up to put together info sessions to give those involved in the agriculture industry insight on some of the changes headed their way.

Date

Location

Location

Flyer

March 3 El Campo El Campo Civic Center  
March 4 Winnie Nutty Jerry’s  
March 12 Taylor Knights of Columbus Hall Schedule
March 13 Waco TX Farm Bureau Conference & Training Center Schedule
March 14 Greenville Fletcher Warren Civic Center Schedule
March 19 Lamesa Forrest Park Community Building  Schedule
March 20 Lubbock Plains Cotton Cooperative Association  Schedule
March 21 Amarillo Amarillo Civic Center – Regency B  Schedule
April 7 Corpus Christi
April 8 Weslaco
TBD Stamford

Visit www.southwest-council.com for additional information.

The thirteenth annual Texas Commodity Symposium will be held Wednesday, Dec. 4, in Amarillo in conjunction with the Amarillo Farm and Ranch Show in the Grand Plaza Room at the Amarillo Civic Center. The free event will begin at 9:30 a.m.

The symposium, which is hosted by the Corn Producers Association of Texas, Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., Texas Grain Sorghum Association, Texas Peanut Producers Board and Texas Wheat Producers Association, will conclude with the annual Ag Appreciation Luncheon, presented by the symposium and the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce Ag Council.

“The program again brings pertinent information to those in the agricultural industry, as well as the local community,” TGSA Executive Vice President Wayne Cleveland said.

“Agricultural production plays an important role to the area’s economy, as it brings in more than $12.2 billion to the High Plains,” CPAT Executive Vice President David Gibson said. “Events such as this symposium are a great way for us to provide pertinent information to farmers and ranchers, as well as the communities they support.”

Wyman Meinzer, the official photographer for the state of Texas, will present the symposium’s keynote address during the Ag Appreciation Luncheon. Meinzer’s photography is renowned, and in his more than 33 years as a photographer he has photographed and/or written 24 large format books and his work has been featured on the cover of more than 250 magazines.

“Meinzer’s work is nothing short of breathtaking, and his eclectic experience across the state brings a unique perspective and interesting tale,” TPPB Executive Director Shelly Nutt said.

Additionally, the symposium will examine a variety of issues that impact producers and the agribusiness sector. Featured topics this year include the farm bill and agricultural policy, estate planning, market and weather outlook, and program updates from NRCS and FSA.

Additionally, the Water Conservation Advisory Council will recognize its 2013 Blue Legacy Award in Agriculture recipients at the event as well.

The event is made free of charge for attendees because of the generous support of the symposium’s sponsors, including ArmTech Insurance Services, Bayer CropScience, DuPont Pioneer, High Plains Journal, Monsanto, and National Peanut Board.

For sponsorship opportunities or more information, please call 800.647.CORN (2676) or email info@texascorn.org.

It may come as a surprise to some farmers, but at any given hour of the day there is probably someone, somewhere, talking about the quality, reliability and value of U.S. wheat. All of this is thanks to the partnership between the Texas Wheat Producers Board, other state wheat organizations and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), the overseas marketing arm of the wheat industry. USW currently operates 17 foreign offices and works with customers in more than 100 countries. To prove the point, we’ve put together highlights from activities held this spring around the world to promote U.S. wheat in an ever more complex world grain market.

TAKING BAKING ON THE ROAD IN THE PHILIPPINES
USW participated in the launch of “Flourish Pilipinas – Bake it fun in the Philippines” as part of a successful, long-term initiative to support local milling and baking organizations in its efforts to promote wheat foods consumption. This yearlong campaign, co-sponsored by the Philippine Department of Tourism and U.S. wheat customer URC Flour Mill, will include baking and recipe competitions, a four-city baking academy roadshow and a World Bread Day fair.

FROZEN DOUGH COURSE BRINGS TOGETHER CHINESE MILLERS AND BAKERS
Eleven bakers and research and development managers from China participated in an eight-day Frozen Dough Workshop at the Wheat Marketing Center (WMC) in Portland, OR. The team members represented three flour mills and major bakery chains in the Yangtze River Delta Region and coastal Fujian Province. Guo Ji Guang, the chairman of Fujian Province’s Fumao Bakery Enterprises, said the course was a great opportunity for bakers and millers to study baking technology together.

ANNUAL U.S. WHEAT ANALYSIS UNDERWAY
Thirty-three USW partners are receiving flour samples this month as part of USW’s Overseas Varietal Analysis (OVA) program. Partners will analyze and compare samples to their current commercial flours based on flour quality and end product performance. Bakery Consultant Roy Chung (USW/ Singapore) organized an annual OVA Technical Seminar in March to bring cooperators from seven mills in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia together to run quality tests on 30 varieties from four classes of wheat. Cooperators in Europe, Asia, Latin and Central America, Africa and the Middle East will begin evaluating flour samples of HRW, SRW, HRS, SW and durum wheat.

MASTERING WHOLE WHEAT PRODUCTS
Two master bakers and two flour millers from Korea participated in a Whole Wheat Research Baking Short Course in February at the WMC. The team evaluated whole wheat bakery products – including pan breads, pita breads
and crackers – using blends of HRS, HRW and SW wheat. Participants also visited a local bakery to learn about artisan baking for baguettes, French rolls and sourdough breads.

CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF PARTNERSHIP IN TAIWAN
The Taiwan Provincial Bakers Associations (TPBA) is celebrating its 65th anniversary. Established in 1948, the TPBA includes 14 local bakers associations from 14 counties in Taiwan. USW has worked with TPBA for 30 years to organize baking seminars and promote healthy bakery products. To join in the celebration, USW is providing TPBA with articles on joint activities for a commemorative magazine TPBA is publishing for its anniversary.

U.S. WHEAT MEETING GHANA’S NEEDS
USW Assistant Regional Director Gerald Theus (USW/Cape Town) met with flour milling groups in Accra, Ghana, to discuss wheat imports. Ghana has imported 47,000 MT of HRW so far in 2012/13, up 26 percent from the same period last year. In 2011/12, Ghana imported a total of 493,000 metric tons (MT) of wheat, including 73,000 MT from the United States. Mills in Ghana are looking for U.S. wheat to blend with competitor wheat to produce viable French-type baguette flour. Instant noodles, a highly successful trend in Nigeria, are also expected to expand into Ghana, an ideal use for HRW.

BRAZILIANS VISIT U.S. WHEAT FARM
USW Santiago staff helped organize a trip for three Bunge Brazil executives to visit Manhattan, KS, in early April, including Manager of Wheat Origination Edson Csipai. Bunge is the largest milling company in Brazil, importing 1.5 MMT of wheat annually. Stops included the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center, the International Grains Program, USDA’s Center for Grain and Animal Health Research, AIB International and a wheat farm near Manhattan.

By The National Wheat Improvement Committee (NWIC)

From wheat farmers to wheat scientists, we know consumers are yearning for more transparency and trust within their food “system.” We understand those concerns as consumers ourselves. In an effort to give consumers full scientific knowledge of how wheat has been improved over the years, we have worked together to publish a concise response to recent claims made by Dr. William Davis. The National Wheat Improvement Committee has compiled the following responses to Davis’ slander attack on wheat’s breeding and science improvements. Responses were developed with a scientific and historical perspective, utilizing references from peer-reviewed research and input from U.S. and international wheat scientists.

Wheat Breeding & Science

The wheat grown around the world today came from three grassy weed species that naturally hybridized around 10,000 years ago. The past 70 years of wheat breeding have essentially capitalized on the variation provided by wheat’s hybridization thousands of years ago and the natural mutations which occurred over the millennia as the wheat plant spread around the globe. There is no crop plant in the modern, developed world – from grass and garden flowers, to wheat and rice – that is the same as it first existed when the Earth was formed, nor is the environment the same.

There is no mystery to wheat breeding. To breed new varieties, breeders employ two basic methods:

  • Conventional crossing involves combining genes from complementary wheat plant parents to produce new genetic combinations (not new genes) in the offspring. This may account for slightly higher yield potential or disease and insect resistance relative to the parents.
  • The second method is to introduce genes indigenous to ancestral or related species of modern-day wheat and gradually incorporate these genes into a new wheat variety with minimal contribution of DNA (typically <5 percent) from the ancestral species. This method still employs crossing, not genetic engineering.
  • It is very important to realize that either method capitalizes on variation already found in wheat’s lineage.

In the 1960’s, developmental efforts, experimental lines and varieties were shared with researchers around the world. In subsequent years, wheat production in Mexico, India and Pakistan increased tremendously and millions of people who otherwise would have likely died of starvation or malnutrition were able to live and have food. Thus remains the primary goal of today’s wheat breeders – to make this ancient plant meet the demands of a rapidly growing human population. All farmers, including wheat farmers, also rely on plant breeders to develop varieties of seeds that are able to combat constantly evolving pests and diseases and shifting climatic conditions.

In the U.S., scientists working at universities, private companies and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are all committed to research that will help us understand the full breadth of the wheat genome, much like we now have a map of the human genome. This forward motion is desperately needed to find beneficial traits critical to keeping wheat available and affordable. Wheat is not alone, research and breeding are absolutely essential in all food crops because agricultural production must increase by about 66 percent by 2040 to match population growth. Developing healthy plants is necessary to meet the nutritional needs of a growing society.

Wheat breeding utilizes genetic resources previously or currently consumed by the public. New wheat varieties must meet stringent quality standards because wheat is used in such a wide range of products, from breakfast foods like whole grain cereals, to everyday staples such as bread, pizza and noodles, to treats like beer, cake and cookies.

The subsequent Myths & Facts portion will show the inaccuracies of Dr. Davis’ claims.

MYTH: All wheat is the same.

FACT: Wheat can be grown in diverse production environments for many uses because of its natural genetic diversity. Wheat can be taller or shorter depending on its growing conditions. From an agronomic perspective, taller wheat varieties have been bred in areas with minimal rainfall or low soil fertility and where harvested straw is important. In contrast, shorter wheat varieties have been bred for higher-fertility, higher-moisture or irrigated conditions1.

FACT: Some wheat varieties are higher in protein, while others are lower in protein. The broad range of protein functionality is what makes wheat flour unique. In the United States, there are six primary wheat classes. In certain classes of wheat, such as those used in cakes and Asian noodles, weak gluten and low protein content are desired. Other wheat classes have strong gluten that is essential for making certain breads and pasta. Protein content in wheat varies by wheat class, individual variety, fertility levels of the soil and from year-to-year based on the weather2. In the U.S., variation in protein content is minimal within each class in a given year3.

MYTH: The increase in celiac disease is due to wheat breeding.

FACT: It is true that celiac disease has increased in the past 50 years, as have other autoimmune diseases and the prevalence of allergies. The relationship between celiac disease and wheat was not clearly established until the late 1940s4. There continues to be research aimed at determining why the incidence of celiac disease is increasing. The 2004 National Institutes of Health’s (NIH)Consensus Development Conference on Celiac Disease theorized that one cause could be the increasing use of serologic screening, leading to diagnosis in milder cases. Other theories suggest that increases in celiac disease, as well as food allergies and sensitivities, are tied to the human environment5,6,7. Gluten-free diets are only appropriate for individuals in a small subset of the population that suffers from celiac disease or has diagnosed gluten sensitivity.

MYTH: There is a new protein in wheat called gliadin.

FACT: Gliadins are not new. Gliadin is the name of a protein stored in the seed found in not only wheat, but other cereals like rye and barley. They have always been a component of wheat protein and were even present in ancient wheat and the wild species that gave rise to modern wheat. Wheat seed storage proteins are made up of about 100 different protein components4. Gliadin was actually purified from wheat and described in a journal more than 100 years ago8.

FACT: Much variation naturally exists in wheat gluten proteins. Protein content also varies due to the environment, including fertility of the soil and weather patterns. Generally, modern wheat possesses less gluten protein but improved gluten function than historical wheat. A lower gliadin to glutenin ratio is a wheat protein characteristic that some wheat breeders may seek to improve the finished product performance9.

MYTH: “Everybody…is susceptible to the gliadin protein that is an opiate. This thing binds into the opiate receptors in your brain and in most people stimulates appetite, such that we consume 440 more calories per day, 365 days per year.”

FACT: Gliadin is present in modern wheat as well as ancient wheat including emmer and einkorn. In contrast, an opiate is an alkaloid found in the sap of the opium poppy plant. Gliadin is not an opiate. There is no clinical evidence that gliadin stimulates appetite.

FACT: In Wheat Belly, Davis references an NIH study to bolster this claim, but omits that the study was a lab analysis of peptides and did not include actual feeding studies of any foods. Other foods in the study that have these peptides include milk and spinach10.

FACT: If someone ate 440 more calories per day, as Davis claimed, he or she would gain about 46 pounds per year.

MYTH: Wheat has been genetically modified.

FACT: Today’s wheat is the product of the painstaking process of crossing parents and selecting offspring, a process called conventional breeding.

FACT: Wheat breeding has always involved crossing two or more parents followed by selection for improved and recombined traits that improve yield, increase resistance to diseases or improve baking characteristics. The wheat varieties that have been developed through breeding have taken advantage of the natural variation that exists in wheat and wheat ancestors and relatives. There are no commercially-available wheat varieties in the world today that were genetically engineered with genes from unrelated species.

MYTH: Wheat causes obesity.

FACT: The composition of modern wheat is not the main cause of the overweight-obesity problem in humans. A combination of factors (genetics, diet, life style, environment) are all, in combination, what triggers weight gain.

FACT: Wheat is one component in the diverse diet of U.S. consumers. Per capita wheat consumption in the U.S. has declined in recent years, while obesity rates have increased11. Wheat is consumed in 118 countries and the European Union, as measured by USDA. In many other countries with lower levels of obesity, wheat plays a larger role in the diet than in the U.S. For example, the Japanese population has a relatively high daily consumption of wheat (131 g/per capita), yet not a very high prevalence of overweight-obesity (3.2 percent)12. According to the World Health Organization 2010 data, there is no correlation between a country’s per capita wheat production and its obesity rate.

MYTH: Wheat is bad for you.

FACT: Wheat has been a staple of the human diet for thousands of years. Wheat grain is an important source of starch and protein, both of which provide energy for the human body. Wheat also provides dietary fiber, resistant starch and antioxidants and other phytochemicals. All of these factors contribute positively to health by preventing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and colon cancer. Wheat flour is a vehicle for micronutrients (inherent or added vitamins and minerals) that prevent nutritional and health problems, particularly in infants and women13,18.

MYTH: Modern wheat has not been tested for health effects.

FACT: Wheat is one of the main reasons humans evolved from living as nomads to form communities and eventually cities. Wheat foods have been a healthy part of the human diet for thousands of years. Currently, wheat provides 21 percent of all food calories in the world. For 4.5 billion people in 94 developing countries wheat provides 20 percent of their protein intake2,9,14.

FACT: Testing of ALL conventionally bred crops is not required because the components and composition of the plant are unchanged in this process. However, food companies have a multitude of processes in place to ensure the safety and wholesomeness of their products.

MYTH: In Davis’ book he references a study claiming “Wheat gluten proteins, in particular, undergo considerable structural change with hybridization. In one hybridization experiment, fourteen new gluten proteins were identified in the offspring that were not present in either parent wheat plant”15.

FACT: None of the wheat cultivars grown in the U.S. were developed via the somatic cell fusion hybridization process referenced in Wheat Belly.
Additional information: The variation in high-molecular-weight glutenin-subunit (HMW-GS) sequences reported in this article was induced by somatic cell fusion hybridization, which was performed by isolation of protoplasts of somatic cells, treatment of protoplasts with UV light, fusion of protoplasts, induction of callus and regeneration of plants from the callus tissue16. Both cell culture and UV radiation are procedures used experimentally in a laboratory and can cause genome variation. However, somatic cell hybridization is not a conventional hybridization approach used by wheat breeders17.

FACT: Conventional breeding produces gluten proteins in the progeny that are present in one of the parents. “Plants can only express proteins they have the DNA code to produce. Environmental conditions can cause or inhibit the expression of certain proteins, but they cannot code for proteins that aren’t in the genome.”10

FACT: Many variations naturally exist in wheat gluten proteins. The different combinations of the these proteins can have many different effects on how the proteins are expressed. This is another example of the great genetic diversity that has existed in wheat over the millennia.

MYTH: Wheat is the grain most tied to agribusiness.

FACT: Because wheat is so important to the global diet, it is grown throughout the world and is traded like many other crop commodities. The wheat supply chain involves businesses as well as federal and state public entities.

FACT: Not-for-profit public universities and the USDA have worked together to develop varieties planted on more than 70 percent of U.S. acres. The 55 million planted wheat acres in the U.S. use hundreds of different varieties. Agribusiness investment in wheat breeding in the U.S. is a very small fraction of that devoted to corn and soybean breeding, and most of the private company investment in wheat breeding has emerged in just the past three years.

Overall, wheat is an essential, safe, healthy and wholesome source of energy and essential nutrients. Globally, 21 percent of the world’s calories come from foods made with wheat. Wheat provides an estimated 4.5 billion people in 94 developing countries 20 percent of their protein intake. In the future, wheat consumption is expected to rise worldwide due to global income growth and urbanization. The science behind wheat breeding is not a mystery. For decades wheat breeders have been working to improve the integrity and sustainability of the crop. This science has saved millions of lives throughout the world. We encourage consumers to continue learning more about the food they eat and the peer-reviewed science behind the stories and books written. We encourage a constructive dialogue that is based on truth rather than fiction.

About The National Wheat Improvement Committee (NWIC)

The National Wheat Improvement Committee is comprised of 24 members representing regional public and private sector researchers, growers and the food processing industry. The goals of the NWIC are to identify and advocate for research priorities of national significance to the wheat community and to provide science-based education on issues which connect wheat improvement with wheat utilization and consumption. Brett Carver, PhD, Regents Professor, Wheat Genetics Chair in Agriculture, Wheat Breeding and Genetics, Oklahoma State University Department of Plant and Soil Sciences serves as the current chair of the NWIC. To learn more about the NWIC, visit http://www.wheatworld.org/research

Sources

1 Stephen Baenziger, PhD, Small Grains Breeding and Genetics, University of Nebraska – Lincoln Department of Agronomy
2 David Marshall, PhD, Plant Science Research Leader, USDA-Agricultural Research Service
3 U.S. Wheat Associates
4 Shewry, P.R. (2009). Wheat. Journal of Experimental Botany, 60, 1537-1553). doi:10.1093/jxb/erp058
5 Green, P. (2009). Mortality in Celiac Disease, Intestinal Inflammation, and Gluten Sensitivity. Journal of American Medical Association, 302, 1225-1226. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1366
6 Cataldo, F., & Montalto, G. (2007). Celiac disease in the developing countries: A new and challenging public health problem. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 13, 2153-2159
7 Wheat Foods Council (Oct. 14, 2011). Gluten and the Diet. Wheat Foods Council. Retrieved from http://wheatfoods.org/resources/gluten-and-diet.
8 Osborne, T.B. (1907). The Proteins of the Wheat Kernel. Carnegie Inst. of Washington Publication, 84, 5-119.
9 Roberto Javier Pena, PhD, Wheat Grain Quality Specialist, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)
10 Jones, J.M. (2012). Wheat Belly—An Analysis of Selected Statements and Basic Theses from the Book. Cereal Foods World, 57, 177-189. doi: 10.1094/cfw-57-4-0177
11 U.S. Department of Agriculture
12 World Health Organization (WHO), 2010

13 European Food Safety Authority Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA). (2011). Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to arabinoxylan produced from wheat endosperm and reduction of post-prandial glycaemic responses (ID 830) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA Journal, 9, 2205. doi: 10.2903/j.efsa.2011.2205
14 Hans Braun, PhD, Director of Global Wheat Program, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)

15 Xin, Gao et al. (2009). High frequency of HMW-GS sequence variation through somatic hybridization between Agropyron elongatum and common wheat. Planta, 231, 245-250. doi: 10.1007/s00425-009-1040-1
16 Xia, Guangmin et al. (2003). Asymmetric somatic hybridization between wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and Agropyron elongatum (Host) Nevishi. Theoretical and Applied Genetics, 107, 299–305. doi:10.1007/s00122-003-1247-7
17 Steven Xu, PhD, geneticist, USDA-Agricultural Research Service
18 JO’Connor, A. An overview of the role of bread in the U.K. diet. Nutrition Bulletin, 37, 193-212. doi: 10.1111/j. 1467-3010.2012.01975.x

Other published resources used:

Gregorini, A. et al. (2009). Immunogenicity Characterization of Two Ancient Wheat α-Gliadin Peptides Related to Coeliac Disease. Nutrients, 1, 276-290. doi:10.3390/nu1020276
Graybosch, R.A., et al. (1996). Genotypic and Environmental Modification of Wheat Flour Protein Composition in Relation to End-Use Quality. Crop Science, 36, 296-300.
McKeown, N.M., et al. (2010). Whole-and refined-grain intakes are differentially associated with abdominal visceral and subcutaneous adiposity in healthy adults: the Framingham Heart Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 92, 1165-71.