Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Monsanto, keeping you healthy

Do you take prescribed medications? Did you know that most of them depend on Monsanto research?

Most molecules active in human physiology are leftish. Monsanto employee William Knowles discovered a way to use a rhodium catalyst to make molecules go left. From his obituary in the New York Times:

Dr. Knowles figured out a way to tweak the manufacturing process to produce more of the most desirable form of certain molecules, including L-dopa. His tool was a catalyst, a substance often used to speed up a chemical reaction. He developed a process called asymmetric hydrogenation, which uses a catalyst not just to speed the reaction but also to skew it to produce 97.5 percent L-dopa and only 2.5 percent of the unwanted D form. Monsanto then began large-scale production of the drug, which is still a mainstay in treating Parkinson’s, especially in the disease’s early stages.
The technique is used generally for most modern drugs. Knowles was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2001.

What have the anti-Monsanto activists ever done for anyone?

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