Monday, November 17, 2008

Tearless Onion

It was the summer of 1978, I was working during my long university break with some of my fellow uni mates at Butlands Company. Butlands as the name suggests has to do with butter and land and anything related to butter. We were assigned to the cheese making part of the factory.

The atmosphere was bad. Butlands paid less that the on going rate. One afternoon, my girl friend and I were plucked out of the labor pool to work in the worst job ever. The two of us were seated in tiny stools and plonked in front of us were three humongous baskets of onions. The foreman instructed us to peel the onions which were used to make their newly "invented" onion flavored cheese slices.

We set out to peel the onions without gloves. Our eyes were stinging, our tears were flowing, our mucous dripping from our nasal cavities and our hands were burning. Our misery were exacerbated by the foreman's frequent supervision.

"Remember, you got to finish peeling or you don't go home."

I told my friend, how great it would be if some scientist would invent an onion without tears. I didn't stay another day in that terrible company. I left without clocking out. Two days later, the workers went on strike.

Almost thirty years since that horrible vacation job that summer, some research scientists in New Zealand with the collaboration with Japanese scientists claim that they discover a way to remove the gene that produces enzymes that cause us to tear when we cut onions.

Am I rejoicing? Now, I have since become very weary of GE crops. I don't like scientists interfer with the food I eat. I don't mind the occasional sniffle when I cut my onions, or if I remember to freeze the onion a couple of hours, this I am told will make the onion less lethal.

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