Wheat is one of the most ‘altered’ food crops since ancient times…so hybridization is nothing new, but this is an interesting study, and points out one of the problems with genetic alteration (in this case, not genetic alteration in the lab, but a crossbred strain) and with two other features of modern agriculture—monoculture (everybody growing the same breed of the same crop) and mass production (you take agricultural products from all over the nation and mix them together first at the granary, then at the processing plant (the mills) and then again at the producer (the bakery).
We may be close to an era when farmers and manufacturers are asked to keep records of what strain of wheat or strawberries or peanuts they’re selling—and they can legislate it. But—there are gentle breezes that blow pollen from one field to another; and there are bees and butterflies, and change happens that has nothing to do with recombinant DNA. There are just some risks that come with district-spanning distribution. You cure famines with one hand—and you produce problems in the wider population with the other.
While many people are scared to death of ‘frankenfood’, things that have been genetically altered, I suggest we have a) the very beginning of a science, and there WILL be mistakes. b) we should be careful, because of paragraph A. But also c) genetics is also how we track down what may have changed and figure out what we can do to ‘defuse’ the problem, ie, create a variety without the problem, and we can do it a lot faster and more safely in the annual generations of wheat, than in ourselves.
Food genetics is not a black and white issue, and labs aren’t the only place gene combination takes place. It goes on in every field.