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Could wheat allergies be a pesticide problem?

Could wheat allergies be a pesticide problem?

Wheat allergies and celiac disease seem to become more prevalent every year. Have we suddenly become intolerant to gluten, or is something else going on?

For some folks, going gluten free is about losing weight or eating clean, but for people coping with allergies or celiac disease, avoiding wheat is not a lifestyle choice. It’s a necessity. For years, we’ve blamed a wheat allergy on gluten intolerance, but new research is pointing to another possible culprit: Monsanto’s Roundup.

Related: In Defense of Gluten

Conventional wheat is not genetically modified, but there’s an alarming practice on the rise in the world of wheat. More and more conventional farmers are using glyphosate – aka Roundup – to dry out their wheat crops before harvest, reports The Healthy Home Economist. They call the practice dessication.

It turns out that drenching wheat crops in Roundup makes it easier to harvest, so farmers can harvest more wheat earlier and more quickly. In fact, glyphosate has been pushed as a dessicant since the 1980s. The practice really started taking hold in the 90s. Today, 99 percent of durum wheat – the most common type of wheat – is treated with herbicides.

When farmers use this practice, they tend to use more Roundup than even Monsanto advises. That means we are most likely seeing glyphosate residue in the wheat we eat.

When you track the prevalence of glyphosate dessication and of wheat allergies since the 1990s, you can see that they correlate strongly.

Could wheat allergies be a pesticide problem?

I know: correlation is not causation. But in this case, it seems like reason to rethink this method of farming until more research is done.

Speaking of more research! There is research suggesting that Roundup throws our gut bacteria out of whack and can even lead to wheat intolerance. And Roundup’s impacts can build up in the body over time, so the more trace amounts we eat, the more damage it can do.

Related: Gut Health: Maintaining Balance During the Changing Seasons

So, if conventional wheat is likely contaminated with glyphosate, how can we protect ourselves? The Healthy Home Economist says that choosing organic wheat is the key, since Roundup and other pesticides containing glyphosate are not allowed in organic agriculture. She recommends organic Einkorn wheat, and any organic wheat berries, organic flour, or organic bread is a healthy alternative to conventional wheat products.

Do you struggle with wheat allergies or celiac disease? Do you find that sometimes wheat does you wrong and other times you can eat wheat without so many issues? Share your experiences in the comments!

Wheat photo via Shutterstock

15 comments
  1. Hilary

    You really need to decide whether you’re talking about celiac disease or so-called “gluten intolerance.”
    Celiac disease is specifically an immune response to a certain protein (gluten) in wheat and other cereal grains which causes intestinal problems and is diagnosed by a biopsy of the intestine. Certain people are genetically predisposed to it and it’s present from birth. It is not caused by environmental factors.

    The other thing you could be talking about is gluten intolerance/wheat intolerance/wheat allergy/wheat sensitivity/etc. This isn’t an autoimmune disorder, but rather just a sensitivity to certain components of wheat/grain (probably not even gluten, see: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/05/22/314287321/sensitive-to-gluten-a-carb-in-wheat-may-be-the-real-culprit). This could be caused by any number of things (even, as pointed out in the article, people’s imaginations.)

    If you’re going to start blaming gluten/wheat/whatever intolerance on glyphosate, you’ll also have to talk about the effect of corn and soybeans on people’s health. Most corn and soybeans grown in this country are genetically modified for glyphosate resistance, which means they are sprayed with glyphosate much more frequently than any wheat would be. This means that consuming corn or soybeans (tofu, soy milk, corn starch, corn syrup, modified soy products, any number of other products) would cause the same effects. The only way to avoid these products would be to choose only organic food items (GMOs and glyphosate are not allowed in certified organic products). Although, if you only eat organic you would also be avoiding glyphosate on wheat, so that wouldn’t be your issue either.

    Next time, please do some better research before you start regurgitating misinformation.

  2. yogiGREG

    Two Things: 1) American Wheat, although not GMO, is different than the older, European Wheat from whence it came due to years of hybridization, thus making it different; and 2) Yes, a large portion of the Red Wheat is sprayed heavily with R-Up. Other Sprays and Soil Treatments on depleted soils has changed its bio-makeup down through the years, too.

    I can tell a difference the next morning in body soreness levels–(Inflammation,) having a very “clean system” with virtually no American wheat intake VERSUS when I eat imported Italian Flour with which there will be no soreness the next day. Talking to several people with similar bio-situations and experiences have affirmed the same response, too–

    YES- Glysophate NEEDS TO GO in our COUNTRY, PERIOD!!! The Bees are dying from it–TOO!

    1. FarmersSon63

      greg, if you would just exercise and lose some weight, all your self manufactured illnesses would disappear.
      There is no scientific evidence that has concluded what you claim.
      It’s all in your head.

    2. hyperzombie

      Europeans use even more Glyphosate on wheat ( and all crops) than North Americans do.

      I can tell a difference the next morning in body soreness levels–(Inflammation,) having a very “clean system” with virtually no American wheat intake VERSUS when I eat imported Italian Flour with which there will be no soreness the next day.

      Maybe it is the lack of Glyphosate that is making you sore.

    3. Hilary

      Wheat in Europe has been bred (yes, the term is bred, not hybridized) just as much as American wheat has been. They also have to deal with disease pressure, environmental concerns, and yield/quality. They also use pesticides just like the US does.

      Also, glyphosate is an herbicide. This means it kills plants, not bees. If you’re worried about bee death, maybe you should actually look into the use of insecticides instead.

    1. FarmersSon63

      While 90% of corn and soybeans receive Roundup applications and people are not experiencing these symptoms.
      This is pure comedy.

  3. Arthur Doucette

    The CHART shown simply indicates that the author has NO CLUE about the difference between CORRELATION and CAUSATION. There are maybe 100 common things that ALSO increased over that time frame, and plotting their graphs together would be just as pointless.

  4. Arthur Doucette

    HIlarious, that chart indicates that in 2010, about 1 lb of glyphosate was applied to about 10,000 lbs of wheat harvested. That would be about 0.2 grams of glyphosate in a 5lb bag of flour (2,267 grams). Since you can make about 20 loafs of bread from a bag of flour (adding water, salt, honey, oil and yeast), that’s 1/100th of a gram of glyphosate per loaf of bread. NOT GOING TO HURT YOU.

    1. Mike

      Your calculation is rational but much too conservative. Only a fraction of the glyphosate ends up on the seeds, the rest on foliage. The seed husks are removed, leaving a fraction of that fraction on the wheat germ which is used for food. The amount per bread loaf will be much, much lower than your estimate.

  5. Wendy Allen

    It is not just the Round up and now Agent Orange maybe used on crops. Wheat is not GMO usually, but has been bred to be shorter and have more gluten. Pesticides are not good also. GMO corn and gluten (wheat/barley/rye…oats may act like gluten..has avenin)…which may hurt the gut lining so nutrients don’t absorb. Cells are not made right to work right when less nutrients absorb in intestines and leaky gut may cause allergies also. Most of America’s health issues maybe due to gluten, but people may have to figure it out themselves since tests may not work to diagnose Celiac.

  6. Sarah

    I am confused, are you talking about Celiac disease, wheat allergy or gluten intolerance? That fact that you don’t know the difference shows me that you shouldn’t be writing such an article. That being said, I would not be surprised in the least if the rise in all of these conditions was due to pesticides and herbicides. It’s too bad this article didn’t provide more real information.

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