Japanese scientists report finding the chemical in onions that makes our eyes water. The discovery could lead to genetically modified tearless onions.
Researchers at the House Foods Corporation in Chiba, Japan say previous evidence was wrong. Earlier studies had indicated that the tear-inducing factor in onions was simply a byproduct of the interaction among compounds that give the vegetable its distinct taste.
But the Chiba team reports in the journal Nature that a different enzyme produces the pungent, irritating chemical.
They say that this previously undiscovered enzyme is not involved in the reaction that produces flavor.
That is reason enough not to cry, because they suggest that removing the enzyme through genetic engineering would probably result in a tearless onion that should taste as good as the original.