posted on Feb 7, 2008 | Comments (2)
Scientists in New Zealand and Japan have created a tear-free onion using biotechnology to switch off the gene behind the enzyme that makes us cry. The research institute in New Zealand, Crop and Food, used gene-silencing technology to make the breakthrough which it hopes could lead to a prototype onion hitting the market before 2018.
Colin Eady, the institute’s senior scientist, said the project started in 2002 after Japanese scientists located the gene responsible for producing the agent behind the tears.
“Here in New Zealand, we had the ability to insert DNA into onions using gene-silencing technology developed by Australian scientists. The technology creates a sequence that switches off the tear-inducing gene in the onion so it doesn’t produce the enzyme. So when you slice the vegetable, it doesn’t produce tears.”
Next on scientists’ to-do list: creating leafless trees, measuring the speed of mayonnaise, and – if they get around to it – curing cancer.