No Tears Onions

No Tears OnionIf you think that onions are the spice of life, you'll be pleased to learn that scientists in New Zealand have perfected a no tears onion. Using the wonders of biotechnology, they were able to switch off the gene controlling the enzyme that causes us to cry. This discovery could put an end to the days of slicing onions for your French onion soup under water, and other strategies for chopping onions without tears.

Onions and Gene Silencing

The answer to the puzzle of why onions make us cry rested in the conversion of sulfur compounds into tear producing agents. Redirecting these compounds into elements within onions that impart additional flavor might eventually result in a tastier onion. Colin Eady, senior scientist at the New Zealand research institute, said that the onion project began after scientists in Japan located the tear-producing gene in 2002.

Science and Our Food Supply

Switching off the tear producing gene in onions is cutting edge DNA technology that raises questions about how far we want science to go in improving the food we eat. The prospect of a no tears onion is convenient, but can't help but raise questions about what we may be sacrificing for the convenience.

How Long To Market for the No Tears Onion?

Eady speculated that it would be 10 to 15 years before his wonder onion was ready for mass-market production. His hope in altering foods with gene silencing was to develop produce that would result in more reliable crop yields and thus a more robust and efficient food supply.

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