From the editor.Open any paper today and you'll read about a new innovation involving biotechnology. From gene therapy to hardier crops, there are few areas of life that haven't been touched by the biotech revolution. The same is true of commodity chemicals: products once derived from oil are now being made from biomass, thanks to designer enzymes, genetically engineered organisms and advances in fermentation technology.
At its heart, biotechnology is about chemistry. There is no better illustration of this than the long-lasting, international impact of a remarkable invention by one of Nova Scotia's distinguished sons, Senator Kelvin Ogilvie. At the dawn of the 1980s, Ogilvie and a team of chemists built the Gene Machine, the first device to provide fast and inexpensive synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA DNA: see nucleic acid.
or deoxyribonucleic acid
One of two types of nucleic acid (the other is RNA); a complex organic compound found in all living cells and many viruses. It is the chemical substance of genes. ) and ribonucleic acid (RNA RNA: see nucleic acid.
in full ribonucleic acid
One of the two main types of nucleic acid (the other being DNA), which functions in cellular protein synthesis in all living cells and replaces DNA as the carrier of genetic ) sequences. As Ogilvie humbly admits in Page 18's story "The Amazing Gene Machine," the invention launched the global biotechnology revolution. Our conversation with Ogilvie is a respectful look back at the roots of modern biotechnology and a lesson in how Canadian innovation can change the world, if properly nurtured.
More Canadian chemical innovation can be found in the world of agricultural crop protection. Contributing editor Tyler Hamilton writes about one such innovator: nanotech venture firm Vive Crop Protection of Toronto. Vive Crop invented a polymer particle it likens to a miniature FEDEX box to deliver farm chemicals that fight fungi, weeds and pests. This eliminates the need for volatile organic solvents--a significant green leap forward in a sector known for chronic overuse of chemicals.
Finally, we look at the remarkable escalation of gasification gas·i·fy
tr. & intr.v. gas·i·fied, gas·i·fy·ing, gas·i·fies
To convert into or become gas.
gas on the West Coast. The University of British Columbia Locations
The Vancouver campus is located at Point Grey, a twenty-minute drive from downtown Vancouver. It is near several beaches and has views of the North Shore mountains. The 7. is collaborating with Vancouver's Nexterra Systems to utilize the region's abundance of biomass to generate clean steam and electricity for powering not only UBC campus but a growing number of businesses, local as well as international. This is yet another step forward in the global clean-energy movement to help heal a polluted planet.