back to article Scientists create 'no-tears' onion

Scientists have created an onion that won't cause you to cry using Australian-developed biotechnology to switch off the gene behind the enzyme that brings on the waterworks. Using gene-silencing technology, the New Zealand-based research institute Crop and Food pioneered the breakthrough and hopes could lead to a prototype …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Karl Lattimer

    Onions produce tears?

    I think you'll find onions INDUCE tears, as they lack the necessary tear ducts to PRODUCE tears.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    What a waste of time!

    Just stand a little back from the onion when you're cutting it. The fumes rise straight up so as long as you're not standing directly over it you're fine!

  3. David Hendy

    Subway employees...

    ...will love it. Sub of the Day- GM Onion Ranch.

  4. Graham Dawson Silver badge


    That bitter pungent foretaste is what makes an onion what it is. Onions aren't all sweetness and light, they're like women: bitter and acrid and sharp and tangy.

    And they make you cry.

  5. Senor Beavis
    Thumb Up

    Onion World

    A fine publication indeed. Carry on

  6. tranquil

    Post bag a little thin this week?

    This is mostly comment bait, right? happy to help. love the phrase 'prototype onion'.

    "We anticipate that the health and flavour profiles will actually be enhanced by what we've done."

    - This reminds me of a scary-go-round comic: "Electromagnetism is a benign force. I am 85% sure it would make the robot's brain EXTRA nice"


  7. Ash

    Can the do the same for...

    ... HMRC data security policies?

  8. martin

    no more tears...

    ...just wear contact lenses

  9. Anonymous Coward

    How to avoid tears

    Some people like to cut onions under water, but I personally find it leeches out too much of the flavour. It's also a bugger to fry a soggy onion.

    A trick my flatmate showed me: roll up your sleeves (or wear short sleeves) and wet both wrists under the cold tap. Because your hands are right next to the onion, the water on your hands dissolves most of the fumes.

    Warning: this reduces the sting by about 75%. However, your eyes still sting somewhat and you may be tempted to wipe them against your wrists. This should be avoided at all costs, as your wrists are now very acidic, and you'll be in as much discomfort as if you hadn't used the wet-wrist trick in the first place!

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Humanity Advances...

    1876, Bell patents first electrical sound transfer system provide the humanity a way to advertice magazines directly to our homes.

    1884, Nipkow patents first electro mechanical image-transfer system provide humanity the Big Brother and other utterly tasteless reality-TV shows.

    1969, ARPANET goes online provide humanity a nuclear attack resistant way to watch porn.

    And now they have mastered the genome prevent onions tearing us up.

    What's next? Space rockets to haul us closer to sun to get that perfect tan?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    More GM for the sake of it.

    Don't they have anything better to do?

  12. Anonymous Coward

    ...and we need this why????

    Just store them in the fridge. When you need one, take it out and cut it up straight away, dont leave it to warm up first.. result no tears!

    or failing that.. you can put a wet wooden spoon in your mouth which attracts the fumes before they reach your eyes... impresses the ladies that one ;)

  13. John Macintyre

    @Graham Dawson

    I think you have issues beyond what science can aid with...

    The alternative is to cut the ends off an onion then stick it under a running tap for a short period, clears out the tear inducing bits pretty usually.

  14. Ben Schofield
    Thumb Up


    Is this what scientists are doing with their time nowadays? I can't imagine how this was suggested, but I suppose it went something like this...

    Scientist 1: Hey guys, I had the craziest dream about onions last night. I woke up sweating but not crying like I normal do and I thought, why don't we produce an onion that doesn't make us cry?

    Scientist 2: Shouldn't we carry on with the cancer research? We've nearly cracked that whole tumor thing.

    Scientist 3: Yeah, he's right, curing diseases should be our priority.

    Scientist 1: No no, you don't understand, I woke up without tears - remember how we talked about the crying problems we have? Could you imagine what it would do for our street cred if we woke up without salt crust on our cheeks?

    Scientist 2: Yeah you're right, get to the shop and get a bag of these beauties. This is gunna be awsome!

    Scientist 3: Hi 5, guys!

    Scientist 2: Group hug!

  15. George Johnson

    Nothing like solving a non-problem!

    As the previous poster said, either wet your hand first, which can make handling the knife tricky or put a bowl of boiling water next to the chopping board and the steam "grabs" the onion spray.

    These sort of stuff always reminds me of the old urban legend, about the space biro. NASA spent millions designing a biro that would work correctly in zero-G, the Russians simply took a box of pencils!

  16. jai

    end of the world is nigh

    i've got Cloverfield-like images of Manhatten being laid waste to by a genetically mutated onion

    run for the hills!!

  17. Jimbo


    Don't want to go all beardy, but this article seems to be very biased with absolutely no elaboration on the "The discovery has caused concern overseas" report. Or am I missing some subtle irony here?

  18. Dave

    Gene Silencing! Home kit available?

    Any chance of a home gene silencing kit? My missus doesn't half go on, sometimes...

  19. Law
    Paris Hilton


    So, rather than finding a cure for cancer, aids, or anything else usefull, we have scientists looking into how to stop onions from making you cry.... wow *claps hands*

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why aren't they 'boffins'?

  21. Johnny FireBlade

    The Onion

    A story truly worthy of inclusion on! ;)

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ AC

    "Just store them in the fridge. When you need one, take it out and cut it up straight away, dont leave it to warm up first.. result no tears!

    or failing that.. you can put a wet wooden spoon in your mouth which attracts the fumes before they reach your eyes... impresses the ladies that one ;)"

    Yeah, probably a lot more the swimming goggles approach I have been known to take.

  23. Benedict


    Turns out God was wrong. Who knew.

  24. Jon

    Cure cancer

    It all ways bugs me when poeple think curing cancer is most important. why prolong life just for the sake of it? Much better to invent ways for better quality of life. I'd rather live an interesting , comfortable life for 50 years than live to 100 not enjoying things.

    although onions crying is not even on my list of things that bug me enough to care. Just put some goggles on

  25. Solomon Grundy

    Poor Choices

    Forget about onions! I want someone to engineer a woman who won't make me cry.

    I like the penguin, cause penguins don't make anyone cry.

  26. Ken Baker

    Obvious, really.

    Diving mask and snorkel. Has *nobody* seen the movie Diva?

  27. Christopher Martin

    Cancer research only? Are you all serious?

    As far as my understanding goes, boffins should be doing research anywhere and everywhere, as you never know what discoveries are going to effect other fields. No one complains that Gregor Mendel was wasting his time fiddling with peas when he should have been busy curing human diseases...

  28. Ben Schofield


    Try saying that to a 9 year old girl with little time to live. She'd be glad to know that you lived a better quality of life with modified onions. Perhaps you'd make her, and her friends and family, cry instead. So what you actually achieved was an onion you cut that didn't affect your delicate eyes, but affected a host of other peoples.

    'Much better to invent ways for better quality of life.'

    Quite, Jon. Living for only 10 years and watching other children playing from a window while you're strapped to an oxygen tank must be just spiffy. Perhaps your onions don't seem so special now.


  29. Eddie Edwards

    The proper way to cut onions ...

    The proper way to cut onions while avoiding any discomfort to yourself is to get your wife to do all the cooking, as any fule no.

    She uses a similar technique to avoid the stresses induced by working in IT.

  30. Graeme

    Scientist = Job

    Sorry Ben etc these scientists weren't for the "New Zealand-based research institute Crop and Food. Capitalism and all that – they need a job to pay for the old goods and services. They found an available job working for Crop and Food. Their job is to research crops - you know a job. I’m sorry you are upset they haven’t devoted themselves to doing cancer research on some sort of freelance basis.

    Crop and Food maybe doesn’t research cancer (or maybe it does, maybe one dept using funds gained from this sort of research does, I have no idea). Maybe these scientists want to be curing cancer but aren't qualified, can't get work in a company working in that area, can’t get funding from a government agency to do it themselves.

    Do you think all scientists should only be researching cancer? Pretty sure the world doesn’t work like that. Most scientists being paid by corporations etc

    Scientist is pretty much just a job!

    Is everyone here researching a cure for a cancer at the moment?

    No? I am shocked! Everyone go the lab in your basement and prepare to save humanity.

  31. ImaGnuber

    Get Over It

    What? Are there only ten scientists in the world? And some are working on non-critical stuff? Who knew?

    Quick! Tell a sad tale about a child - "Oh my god! He has convinced me that everyone everywhere should focus all their energy on this problem!!!"

  32. Martin

    Rowlf from the Muppets said it best...

    I never harmed an onion

    So why should they make me cry...

  33. Carl

    No crying

    I heard some advice to light a candle next to where the onion is being cut. Works surprisingly well!

  34. ian
    Gates Horns

    This WILL end in tears

    "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" presaged and predicted these onions - but had the vegetable (or are onions fruit) wrong.

    BG because he cries all the way to bank.

  35. ImaGnuber
    Thumb Up


    "Is everyone here researching a cure for a cancer at the moment?

    No? I am shocked! Everyone go the lab in your basement and prepare to save humanity."

    Well said. Perfect.

  36. jake Silver badge

    Try a sharp knife

    Sharp knives are your friends ... Trust me, get quality knives, have them

    professionally sharpened BEFORE using them, and then once a year or so (if you really cook). While you are there, ask the pro how to use a steel.

    Use the steel EACH TIME you break out a knife. The sharp knife cuts, rather than crushes, so less of the volatiles are released.

    No more tears.

    Well ... Maybe a few tears over wasted gene study fundage ...

    An added benefit is that most kitchen cuts are caused by dull knives ...

  37. Anonymous Coward

    How to cut onions without tears...

    ... the secret it to leave the hairy bit at the bottom on until the end - it is the source of most of the irritant juices, and it is handy to hold on to, too.

    Peel the brown leves back and pull them off; if you are chopping the onion (rather than just slicing into rings) make the longways cuts incomplete, finishing before the root end, then make the transverse (ringwise) cuts.

    Stop slicing before you get to the hairy bit...

  38. Ben Pierard

    Sharp knife is good but..

    I'd been looking for a useful solution to this predicament for a long time when I came across a gem, along the lines of the "pelvis floor exercises at the bus stop" genre.

    Rather than show your talents in gag reflex inhibition, simply imitate most fellow members of your species and breathe through your mouth whilst cutting. This changes the airflow around the face and makes cutting onions almost pleasant. Works for me at any rate and has for years.

    Any brave Registards willing to feed back on this one?

  39. Slaine

    feedback - but I'm not very brave

    ...tempted as I am to make some glib (and, were it not for the extremist feminists around, funny) comment about cooking being a woman's job I realise that this will, as it has so many times in the past, get the entire thread censored irrespective of the logic or information contained elsewhere therein... [see - I was listening]... so instead I will tell a truth... I like cooking, I love onions (raw, chopped, cooking and cooked) and yes, I breathe through my mouth if the onion variety in question INDUCES (good point Karl and well made) excessive tear duct emissions.

    There - I said it. I still don't get the "pelvic floor exercises" reference though - maybe I don't get out enough... got any photos?

  40. Paul Murray

    Jonathan Swift

    Many of the comments remond me of Jonathan Switft's take on science. He never understood the purpose of research.

This topic is closed for new posts.