Great story Larry,http://www.gmofreepartners.com/glyphosate-patents/
Here is the back story of probably the most well known (famous or infamous) general herbicide, glyphosate, better known as Roundup.
How its use as an herbicide was discovered is a case of serendipity. I know the back story, because my father, an organophosphorus chemist, has the first patent for glyphosate. My father was a prolifically inventive chemist. When he retired, he had almost 100 patents, having worked for Stauffer Chemical (and before its merger into Stauffer, Victor Chemical) for his entire career. For his patents, he received a bonus of $100. We normally had a nice family dinner at a local restaurant when he got his bonus check! Around 1960 he was working on synthesizing some organophosphorus compounds as potential herbicides. He found one, glyphosate, and it was put through the standard US Government test to see whether it worked. It was a five day test. Normally, on Monday morning a set of plants were put out and the chemical was applied to them. On Friday afternoon, they were inspected to see whether the chemical had killed the plants. If it had, the chemical went on for further testing. If not, the chemical failed the test and it was abandoned as an herbicide. Glyphosate failed the test. My father found a different use for glyphosate as a chelating agent and you can see the first patent (applied for in 1961 and granted in 1964) is for glyphosate as a chelating agent. We must have gone out for dinner after the patent was granted.
Fast forward to 1968, and Monsanto, a major competitor to Stauffer, was doing similar research and they synthesized glyphosate (not knowing that my father had done the same thing years earlier and it had failed the test). They repeated the test, but with one difference. When it came time to check the plants on that Friday afternoon, the person who was assigned to that task was sick. He returned to check the plants the following Monday and the plants had died over the weekend. Those of you who have used Round-Up know that it is not fast acting and you need to wait for it to kill the plants. Monsanto, then applied for and received the patent for using glyphosate as an herbicide in 1969. It became the most profitable chemical that Monsanto ever had. But also with consequences that were unpredictable at that time.
Stauffer's patent for glyphosate (a so called use patent as Monsanto's was) only allowed them to sell glyphosate as a chelating agent, not as an herbicide, even those my father's patent predated Monsanto's by six years.
Interesting to speculate how the world would be different if the Monsanto worker had not been sick on that Friday, and the plants had not died. Glyphosate would be an obscure chemical and farming efficiencies, GMO crops (like Round Up ready seeds) and perhaps some cancers would not exist.
I don't know about that type of patent. My Dad passed away 24 years ago (at age 80) so, unfortunately I can't ask him. He didn't live to see all the controversy about glyphostate either. According to wiki, a Swiss chemist first synthesized glyphosate in 1950, but the work was unpublished. I don't think my dad knew anything about that work, a decade later when he was working on the synthesis. I know his company was very conservative about applying for patents (I think because of the cost involved) and he had many discoveries for which he did not get a patent, because the company wouldn't pay for it. As an industrial chemist, the search was always directed to something that had potential to be useful (i.e. make a profit), not just pure research, for the sake of knowledge.Great story Larry,
I was well aware of Glyphosphate as Monsanto was a large methylamines customer for my old company. Air Products & Chemicals. I was not aware of that backstory. Thanks for sharing. We earned $300 for a patent on the ‘90’s.
I guess a composition of matter patent was not available for your father?
Both Paraquat and Glyphosate have public health concerns. Many countries ban or put restriction on use of the two hazardous substances. Glufosinate Ammonium not yet . Personally, I think the risk of getting into an accident is much more than getting a harm from the two substances.
Thai farmers must have super tolerance to pesticides. Protective clothing? They say too expensive and too hot to wear. Yet no incident of dying from Paraquat unless suicidal cases. But of course no case yet of scratching balls with Paraquat contaminated hands here. Out number of cases people die because of alcohol and smoking.The last accident we had here with paraquat was from a guy who wore all the correct protective clothing and gloves when using it but decided to scratch his nuts with his contaminated gloves whilst working and died as a result. It's a horrible death as well as your lungs fibrose slowly over several weeks and is irreversible so you slowly suffocate. It should be banned globally imo.
They are lucky then although a lot of paraquat cases are not diagnosed unfortunately or may be they are using fake paraquat Odin II version?Thai farmers must have super tolerance to pesticides. Protective clothing? They say too expensive and too hot to wear. Yet no incident of dying from Paraquat unless suicidal cases. But of course no case yet of scratching balls with Paraquat contaminated hands here. Out number of cases people die because of alcohol and smoking.
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