Gluten has recently been introduced into the diet of the Mediterranean and European population, but a considerable proportion has not adapted to this change and has developed intolerance to gluten. At least one million EEC citizens are gluten intolerant. In Italy each year 12 million ECU is spent in the diagnosis of uncomplicated gluten intolerance, 10 million ECU for complex diagnosis and 32 million ECU for long-term complications and malignancies. The total financial load of gluten intolerance, in its present state, is about 150 million ECU/year in Italy. Four million ECU is actually needed to develop a genetic probe, which may make the population screening feasible. A National Task Force "Free from Gluten" has been set up by the Italian Coeliac Society to stimulate fund-raising activities supporting genetic and basic research on gluten intolerance.