Israelis develop super-pasta wheat

"Barnir" combines high-protein wheat from different parts of the world.

By ADAM GONN / THE MEDIA LINE
July 25, 2010 23:32
2 minute read.
Pasta

pasta 311. (photo credit: stock photo)

A new type of wheat that is ideal for making pasta has been developed in Israel.

The new wheat is a hybrid of Israeli wheat, high-protein wheat from different parts of the world and high grain-protein content from wild wheat species.

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Engineered by researchers at the Volcani Institute of Agricultural Research in Israel, the new type of wheat is said to have all the attributes and nutritional qualities that the pasta industry is looking for.

“What we have developed is a new wheat with high pasta quality,” Dr. Uri Kushnir, a researcher at the Department of Plant Sciences, Agronomy and Natural Resources at the Volcani Institute of Agricultural Research, told The Media Line. “It has been tested by the pasta industry in Switzerland and Italy, and the results were very highly complimentary.”

“It has a very high protein [content], which is what the pasta industry is looking for,” he said. “It also has a natural yellow pigment with vitamin A.”

In addition to the new pasta wheat, Kushnir and his fellow researchers have developed a new type of bread wheat, which looks like white bread but contains all the nutritional benefits of whole-wheat bread.

The new bread wheat, called “Barnir,” has grown in both dry and irrigated areas and maintained its protein stability under both medium and high levels of yield, he said.

Kushnir said the new wheat could help alleviate diabetes because the protein absorbs sugar slower.

“It’s quite tasty and healthy wheat,” he said. “It’s more nutritious and healthier than rice.”

Prof. Yakir Plessner of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Management at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem said Israel was at the forefront of global agricultural engineering.

“For its size, Israel is quite advanced,” he told The Media Line. “For example, we are at the front in terms of tomato varieties, and a lot of countries grow our tomatoes and melons.”

“As far as agriculture is concerned, it’s big business,” Plessner said. “We are not going to be able to compete with [American agricultural giant] Monsanto, but we have four or five seed companies that are going well.”

Prof. Itamar Glazer, head of the Department of Plant Sciences at the Volcani Institute of Agricultural Research, said agricultural products make up an important component of Israeli exports.

“It’s about $1 billion a year and very important for the many families who live on agriculture,” he told The Media Line. “In many fields Israel is a leading position. It has a tremendous reputation of research and development and invention of new products.”


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