John E. Franz

National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Agriculture

For his discovery of the herbicidal properties of glyphosates which have had significant consequences upon the production of agricultural food and fiber as well as upon agricultural practices throughout the world.

For his discovery of the herbicidal properties of glyphosates which have had significant consequences upon the production of agricultural food and fiber as well as upon agricultural practices throughout the world.

VIEW STATISTICS +

Birth
December 21, 1929
Age Awarded
58
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
Glyphosate Herbicide: Roundup
Awarded by
Ronald Wilson Reagan
Education
University of Minnesota
University of Illinois
Areas of Impact
Energy & Environment
Affiliations
Monsanto Corporation
Other Prizes
National Inventors Hall of Fame
F

From the age of 10, John E. Franz knew he wanted to become a scientist. He went on to complete a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at the University of Minnesota, and took a job at Monsanto Company where he would spend his entire career.

Researchers at Monsanto Company had been searching for an herbicide that was effective against annual and perennial weeds for nine years but had little success. In 1970, Franz and his team discovered glyphosate, eventually marketed as Roundup. The herbicide is highly effective against both annual and perennial weeds, but essentially nontoxic to mammals, birds, fish, insects, and most bacteria.  

Franz’s invaluable breakthrough spurred Monsanto to design and produce plants genetically immune to glyphosates, which allows farmers to use the herbicide without damage to their crops. It's satisfying to know that he's played a major role in developing "an environmentally friendly product that's beneficial to mankind," Franz said in an interview. Glyphosate continues to be among the most widely used herbicide in the world. 

By Jen Santisi

...