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Wheat is one of the most important grains worldwide, but individuals with celiac disease become very ill if they consume this grain. The only solution for people with the disease is to follow a strict gluten-free diet for life which significantly increases spending on food because of the higher price of gluten-free products.

An alternative is to produce a variety of gluten-free wheat. But it is very difficult to produce a wheat variety without all the gliadin genes by conventional breeding techniques such as selection and hybridization.

To avoid this obstacle, a team of Spanish scientists led by Dr. Francisco Barro decided to develop a free-gluten wheat variety using the technology of RNA interference (RNAi) to silence or delete the genes that produce the problematic gliadins.

The team’s research was published in 2011 and revealed that 4 of the 17 lines of GM wheat with low amounts of gliadins produced a reaction up to ~95% less toxic when compared to conventional wheat.

Despite the opportunity presented by this GM crop to improve the quality of life of celiac patients, the problems arise at the stage of approval and commercialization. At this point I cannot fail to quote from blog post of Jose Miguel Mulet, a Spanish plant scientist from CSIC and a leader in the hispanic science/biotechnology communication community.

How can it be that a technology created with Spanish public funds end up in the hands of a private American company? Because of the aberrant anti-GMO European law. No European or Spanish company is interested in commercially developing this wheat due to obstacles in the authorization process…The result: licensing rights have been acquired by the… Dow Agrosciences, given that the authorization process in the United States is much easier.

Read full, original post: Gluten-free GM wheat can help celiac patients