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7 February, 2008

No more tears?

There may – may – be valid justifications for genetically-modified food crops which outweigh the potential disadvantages.  However, I don't think mere convenience is one of those justifications.

Yahoo! reports that biotechnologists in New Zealand, using Japanese research, claim to have produced a 'tear-free' onion. The chemical which causes the eye-watering response in anyone cutting into an unmodified onion is controlled by an enzyme; the researchers have identified the gene controlling production of that enzyme, and turned it off.

FFS – just change your onion-chopping technique, or ****ing live with the tears, as people have managed for centuries! I'm not inherently opposed to GM-foods (so long as consumers genuinely have complete choice about whether to eat them), but I really don't see frivolous comfort as a good enough reason to incur an unknown number of potential side-effects of unknown severity.

However, it has to be acknowledged (as Yahoo! does) that irrespective of the value of the project itself, it's a good consciousness-raising exercise educating the public about biotechnology. Just so long as the risks are explained alongside any breathless "food of the future" hype.

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