International workshop highlights continued need for gluten-related research

Friday 18 September, 2015

Consumer’s perception of gluten and their avoidance of Australian wheat were two of the issues discussed at this week’s 12th International Gluten Biotechnology workshop, held in Perth from 12-15 September.

The calibre of international and national speakers was exceptionally high; with multiple registrants from the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe to address an array of gluten-related issues ranging from genetics and flour functionality to the medical significance of gluten and grains.

The Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) was a major supporter of the international event, alongside Murdoch University and the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA).

AEGIC Chief Executive Officer David Fienberg acknowledged gluten was becoming a driver of consumer decisions and that those perceptions could have an impact on the future demand for quality Australian wheat exports.

“We have seen a trend towards wheat avoidance due to people thinking they have a wheat or gluten intolerance, which is markedly higher than those individuals that actually have diagnosed coeliac disease,” Mr Fienberg said.

“There is much research being dedicated to understanding exactly what it is within the wheat genome, as well as other grains, that may cause reactions in certain people, and that research needs to be supported to ensure we can maintain and expand our export grain markets.

“If we want to continue achieving market success for our growers, we need to encourage enthusiastic discussion and results-driven work at a scientific level and pass the results of any R&D on to growers and consumers through education and promotional programs.”

International organising committee chair for the workshop, Professor Wujun Ma, said the proceedings for this year’s event were impressive and had engaged many leaders across the grains industry.

“The 2015 workshop attracted some very big names in grain quality research as well as delegates from throughout the grain supply chain,” Professor Ma said.

“Gluten is the major determinant of grain processing quality and given the growing amount of public attention, it was an ideal time to bring together some of the world’s leaders in the field.”

“In addition to this, the workshop provided the opportunity to feature the next generation of agricultural scientists through Murdoch University’s work with local Perth high schools.”

The projects by students at Applecross Senior High School, Rossmoyne Senior High School and Corpus Christi College provided some novel insights into the proteins which are associated with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity; measured chemical residues in grain storage; the surveying of food products for chemical residues and how insects in stored grain can be controlled.

To view all official program and full list of speakers, please visit http://www.murdoch.edu.au/IGB/Program/

AEGIC media contact:
Jo Patroni
0426 622 062