Gluten intolerance can affect around one per hundred of the general population, and this can cause problems when eating any wheat based food product. Flour is made into many things ranging from bread, pasta, and cakes. Having an intolerance to gluten means that eating any wheat products causes inflammation of the digestive system which results in pain. Many products have come to market which replace the wheat with other ingredients. The outcomes are never the same as traditional wheat products, but over time their quality has improved.
Now though, science is looking for an answer. It's still not known what causes gluten intolerance and Celiac disease but a team of genetic researchers from Spain's Institute for Sustainable Agriculture have managed to take another approach. It has been identified that it is molecules known as gliadins which are present in gluten that are the root of the issue. Using a specialist gene splicing technique called CRISPR, so far 35 of the 45 genes for gliadins have been successfully removed. These genetic experimental wheat plants have yielded bread, which in theory would greatly reduce the affect of gluten on Celiac sufferers.
The work is not yet complete, with another ten genes to be found and removed, it could be a while before totally safe gluten can be sold. Once more, before human consumption is permitted, several tests must be explored to guarantee its suitability to be eaten. It may seem like a long way around to get next-door, but every possibility needs to be fully assessed. How do you feel about genetically modified food? Many people have a natural aversion towards anything that has been tampered with, however if the natural aversion is towards something we can remove, would you have it done? Once more the GM crops debate can rage over the pros and cons of this new technology, however for many people with Celiac disease, bread and butter may not be so far away.
Rowan Blair Colver for Alternative Fruit
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