How far are we from allergen-free wheat?
And would you eat it?
Allergen-free wheat is currently being researched and should become available within a few years. This means that individuals with wheat or gluten allergy (coeliac disease) would be able to use genetically modified (GM) wheat without being exposed to the allergens associated with this staple food.
Currently one of the most emotive topics related to food production is GM foods. There are two strong camps in the GM debate, those that regard GM foods as dangerous, toxic and potentially disastrous to the human gene and nature. And those that hail it as the solution to mass starvation.
One of the first questions that food allergy aware people ask about GM foods is "will the GM food cause new types of food allergies?" The answer is that scientists are now very careful to ensure that they don't introduce a potential allergen into a previously non-allergenic food. In 1996 scientists created a GM soybean spliced with Brazil nut DNA, which could of course have had a disastrous effect on anyone with a nut allergy eating the GM soybeans, however it was realised before it made it into production.
Given the chance, genetic engineers will also be able to produce allergen-free milk, eggs and peanuts in the future, with the hope that GM foods will be seen as making a positive, instead of negative, contribution to the elimination of food allergens.