The EU have begun pressing for restrictions on the trade in human tears, following a flood of recent cheap imports from China. Tariffs will be raised and a limit set on the volume allowed in, to protect Europe's own human tear industry.
In the last few years tear factories have sprung up all over China. Inside them dozens of young people, mostly female, stand watching a sad film about a dying panda, while a rubber tube pumps the liquid directly from their eyes to a tank. Their tears are then bottled and sold for a small fortune.
Human tears are highly prized, and are used in skin products, health drinks and toy dolls. In some parts of the world they are considered a panacea and even an aphrodisiac. Michael Winner famously used to bathe in the stuff.
However, there are concerns about the quality of Chinese tears, partly because of the unnatural way in which they are extracted. Rumours have also spread that Chinese tears may be watered down with tears from donkeys and squirrels.
British tear companies have been making a come-back in recent years, thanks to the demand for traditional home grown human tears. The modern British tear trade began in Sunderland, where a few lachrymose individuals keep it going still. Some talk enthusiastically of the golden age of the 1800s, when tear clippers would race across the oceans to deliver the precious cargo throughout the world.
Johnny Stodge explained, "Why, we've bin doing this for yeahs. Ever since Wilfred Blub cried so much he drowned his motha in 1742, tha's bin an industry heah. Ah've always bin prooone to a good cry, so I started bottlin it when ah woz sixteen and sellin it at chuuurch feeetes. I produce about a bottle a day, totally natural like. There's none o' that forced crying like the Chinese do. It makes me sad to think about it."
However, Britain's efforts to reestablish a tear industry may be being undermined. In nearby Middlesborough, a small group of young people are "onioning", a illegal and painful form of forced crying that can cause severe organ damage. Tears produced this way cannot be legally sold, so it ends up on the black market.
No doubt it will all end in some unhappy way.