If you’re the average consumer, it’s likely you’ve never heard of Imidazolinone herbicides. But the discovery of these environmentally friendly herbicides by Marinus Los in the 1970s has paid huge dividends for farmers working to feed a hungry planet.
The herbicides are harmless to humans, animals, fish, birds and insects. And because they’re so effective in controlling weeds, farmers need only use a fraction of the amount of other herbicides, which is an added bonus.
Born in the Netherlands, Los immigrated with his family to the United Kingdom when he was a young boy. He studied chemistry at Edinburgh University, where he received a bachelor’s degree and went on to receive a doctorate in organic chemistry in 1957.
Working as a research chemist for American Cyanamid in the early 1970s, Los noted the herbicide potential in a chemical he was studying. He began tinkering with its molecular structure. Through that process he discovered Imidazolinones. The company introduced the new herbicides in 1985.
Los’s trail-blazing work has brought him numerous accolades, including the National Medal of Technology, the Society of Chemistry’s Perkin Medal and a Heroes of Chemistry award from the American Chemical Society.
Los retired from American Cyanamid in 1996.
By Robert Warren