The evening of his two-year-old son’s funeral, John Warner looked back on his prolific career as a chemist, and had an epiphany of sorts.
“I had probably synthesized more molecules than anyone my age on the planet. I was at the top of my game as a synthetic organic chemist. But I asked myself, what if something I worked with, something that I made, caused my son’s birth defect and ultimate death?” view counter
He realized that despite being a successful chemist, he had no idea what made a chemical toxic. That started him on a journey to discover just what it takes to create safer chemicals.
Considered in the science world to be one of the founding fathers of green chemistry, Warner was the featured speaker Friday at the “Adding Value Through Green Chemistry” conference co-sponsored by the Minnesota Green Chemistry Forum, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and the University of Minnesota.
The event was intended to bring together leaders from the academic, nonprofit, government and business communities in discussion about the benefits and opportunities of green chemistry, which Warner says aims to “reduce or eliminate hazardous substances at the design stage.”