To understand how wheat has been changed and how that change affects us, a simple understanding about it, genetics is needed. This cereal has one of the most complex genetic makeups in the natural world. In human beings, the forty-six chromosomes of each parent are blended to create forty-six chromosomes in their child. But in it (like some other plants), the chromosomes of each "parent" are added to make a new plant. In other words, the genetic makeup of wheat is cumulative. This ability to add chromosomes is called polyploidy, and it doesn't occur in animals or people.
Einkorn wheat started out with only fourteen chromosomes. When it mated with wild goat grass, the resulting strain was emmer wheat, which had twenty-eight chromosomes. Sometime prior to even the Old Testament era, emmer mated with another grass to form Triticum aestivum, which had forty-two chromosomes.
As we said earlier, Triticum aestivum changed very little over the ensuing years. It remained largely the same until genetic modification and hybridization became far better understood and more widely practiced. The fact that this grain has such a complex genetic code actually makes it quite flexible, genetically speaking.
Those agricultural scientists interested in increasing wheat yields quickly turned to altering the actual genetic code of wheat to make it more resistant to disease, more tolerant of heat and drought, and a more compact plant.
The problem is that all of this genetic engineering produced a type of wheat whose proteins, gluten content, and enzymes are very different from Triticum aestivum. In fact, each type of new wheat is also different from its parents. In testing one particular strain, researchers found that 95 percent of the resulting genes matched those of its parent plants, but 5 percent of the genes found were completely new.
To understand where this is heading, imagine that through genetic engineering, new human genes were created. What if people suddenly had a new organ or a new limb? How many new parts would humans need to have before they became another species altogether? It may sound silly, and it is an exaggerated example, but the principle is very close to the truth, and what we consume today is a sort of "Frankenwheat" that bears little resemblance to the ceral our ancestors ate.