Issue Date: January 12, 2009
NO DOUBT there will be a flurry of responses to the statement by Porter Robert Peoples in the editorial titled "Message to President-Elect Obama." Peoples wrote that "green chemistry is defined as doing chemistry the way nature does chemistry" (C&EN, Nov. 17, page 3). Aside from not capitalizing "Nature" to show reverence, we (especially organic) chemists continue to lament how incompetent we are in the lab compared to nature's ways, be it in transition-metal- or even organo-catalytic reactions, and especially in total synthesis of natural products. We need not look beyond Taxol to justify this statement.
The second point is that chemists—whether using small or multi-kilogram-scale reactions—are attempting to improve efficiency and decrease waste side products, reagents, and solvents, and thereby contribute to environmental stewardship. What is a green chemist? Every chemist. Peoples' statement should have this important addition: "Green chemistry is defined as attempting to do chemistry the way nature does chemistry."
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