We may have finally gone through the gluten-free looking glass. Scientists are hard at work right now trying to create gluten-free wheat.
The idea may sound ridiculous at first, but Kansas farmers believe that with a little research, it might be possible. According to the AP, the Kansas Wheat Commission has invested $200,000 to launch a two-year project that will attempt to identify everything in the DNA of wheat that can trigger reactions in sufferers of celiac disease, the only proven wheat-sensitivity disease.
Despite no proof that more than the 1 percent of people diagnosed with celiac actually have a gluten intolerance, so many people have joined the anti-gluten fad that a third of people now say they are trying to reduce their gluten intake for health reasons. That has turned gluten-free products into a booming billion-dollar business. Because of this, scientists around the globe are spending more time researching the underlying causes of gluten intolerance, but the genetics have never been fully broken down, and no gluten-free wheat variety has ever been bred.
“We are hoping to be one of the first to establish this comprehensive screening of reactive proteins in wheat,” said Chris Miller, senior director of research for Engrain, a Kansas business that deals with products in the milling and cereal industry. Research began back in July but is still in the early stages.
Experts the AP spoke with disagreed about the feasibility of the project, but with so much money to be made, Kansas hopes it’s worth the investment.