Tracy Frisch: What’s the origin of the chemical that became the world’s most widely-used weed killer?
Carey Gillam: In 1950, while looking for new pharmaceuticals, the Swiss chemist Henri Martin synthesized the chemical we call glyphosate. … But it took Monsanto and John Franz, a young Monsanto chemist, to unlock the weed-killing magic within glyphosate and bring it to market as the highly profitable product Roundup. Franz discovered that glyphosate killed plants in 1970 and went on to receive great acclaim for his finding. In 1974, Monsanto rolled out Roundup as a very safe and effective weed killer, and it was quickly embraced for a number of different uses.