Early hybridization Universally referred to as the staff of life, wheat’s cultivation has allowed civilization to shift from a hunter-gatherer to agrarian lifestyle by supporting the congregation of enormous, concentrated populations (Brown et al., 2016; Jones, 2016; Sayer, 2013; Sofi, 2013). Triticum monococcum (einkorn) was the original strand of wheat, commonly referred to as the ancient wheat.
Einkorn was cultivated around 3300 BC in the Middle East and Eastern Europe; the strand was not cold-tolerant and had a total of 14 chromosomes–the simplest genetic code of all wheat species (Davis, 2015). In examining the DNA traces left behind by a mummified Neolithic Era glacier mummy known as Ötiz, a study found the remains undigested of an einkorn wheat flatbread, predating the consumption of Einkorn to over 5,300 years ago (Rollo, 2002).Shortly after the cultivation of ancient wheat, a new species formed as the natural offspring of einkorn and Aegilops speltoides (goatgrass). The genome combination of both the einkorn and goatgrass resulted in emmer: a wheat species consisting of 28 chromosomes. Einkorn and emmer became staple foods in the agrarian diet, as these two earliest strands of wheat were bred from highly nutritious grasses. Both, however, shared alleles for poor yield and no resistance to extreme temperature change. Consequently, early domesticators attempted to increase the yield of the crop by breeding emmer with high yielding, weather resistant grasses. It was rapidly discovered that allopolyploidization would allow wheat to easily inherit the allele for high yield from its parent plants.
Allopolyploidization, unique to wheat, refers to the cereal crops ability to accumulate the sum of both parent plants’ specific genomes, thus allowing feasible selective breeding for the addition of desirable traits (Farris, 2014). This was the start of early wheat hybridization: a movement to increase wheat yield and resistance with no attention paid to the inevitable nutritional consequences of the altered crop (Carvalho, 2006; Nadeem, 2010; Shiferaw, 2012).Triticum turgidum (emmer) was eventually bread with Aegilops tauschii (a diploid goatgrass species) to form Triticum aestivum–a 42 chromosome strand, closely resembling wheat consumed in the 21st century–along with hundreds of other new strands (Davis, 2015). As the population continued to thrive on these cereal grains, the need for new hybridized stands of wheat that possessed genomes that coded for augmented yield increased (Davis, 2015; Brown et al.
, 2016; Reynolds, 2005).The Green Revolution In order to sustain a rapidly increasing global population in the 1950’s and 60’s, a movement spread throughout the agroscience field to engineer a crop that would alleviate global food shortages and famine. The ability to alter wheat’s large set of chromosomes initiated an unprecedented productivity growth of hybridized semi-dwarf, high-yielding crops that respond to massive quantities of agrochemicals and fertilizers. The doubling of global wheat production that occurred in this period can be attributed solely to increased yield. (Garvin et al., 2006). The creation of thousands of modern wheat varieties that were developed more rapidly than any other technological innovation in the history of agriculture, became known as the Green Revolution (Brown et al., 2016; Davis, 2015; Fan, 2008; Shifraw, 2013).
Although this new, modern wheat has become one solution to assuaging world hunger, scientists of the Green Revolution–along with early domesticators– were so intent on achieving higher agronomic yield through hybridization, that the nutritional quality of this new substance was completely overlooked. Modern wheat–despite its thousands of genetically altered characteristics–was released into the global food supply without a question about its suitability for human consumption. Overview of ImplicationsIt is a common, and destructive, misconception that modern whole grains continue to provide minerals and complex carbohydrates that assist in disease prevention (Slavin, 2004). Yet, grain products comprise the base of the US Department of Agriculture’s current “MyPlate” Food guide. This model advises that between 45% and 65% of calories should come from carbohydrates, while numerous studies definitively link wheat to intestinal inflammation, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes (Pusztai, 1992; Jenisn, 2006; Pizzuti, 2009; Mauro, 2011; Punder, 2013; Sayer, 2013; Sofi, 2013). Since the USDA advised the United States to rely on wheat for nutrients, rates of chronic illness have undoubtedly skyrocketed among the American population (Hung, 2011; Davis, 2015; Brown et al.
, 2016).This research will explore the connections between the increased avocation for the consumption of hybridized wheat by the United States government and the epidemic of increasing chronic disease. Through these connections, the study will attempt to explain how modern wheat differs from the ancient strands that were vital to the emergence of civilization, as well as explaining the consequences of these differences. This qualitative analysis can be used to guide the populace to follow healthier dietary guidelines. Data analysis of texts and studies will be used to construct the theory that United States reliance on–and mass consumption of–modern wheat has led to a health crisis of rapidly increasing chronic disease.
The theory that celiac disease is a healthy response to a destructive dietary substance, not an unhealthy response to a beneficial food, will furthermore be constructed.