Scientist who pioneered genetic engineering gave away his discoveries for free

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Ending hunger, conserving the environment and advancing medicine were more important goals to Rutgers Professor Joachim Messing than earning lots of cash.

So when he discovered a way to crack the genetic code of humans and plants like rice, corn and wheat, Messing did not patent his work. Instead, he gave away the tools he invented – for free – to his fellow scientists around the world because he believed it was vital for future research.

. . . .


“I thought it was important to be generous and make this freely available without restrictions so biotechnological innovations could move forward,” said Messing, the Selman A. Waksman Chair in Molecular Genetics at Rutgers and a resident of the Somerset section of Franklin Township.

The director of the Rutgers Waksman Institute of Microbiology has become famous for a genetic engineering technique used in laboratories to create plants that have produced disease-resistant crops considered crucial to feeding the world’s population and drugs like Erythropoietin used to treat cancer patients.

Messing’s technique has resulted in the creation of new lines of drought-tolerant plants more resistant to insects, herbicides and other environmental stresses and enabled biofuels to be extracted for energy from plants like corn and sorghum, a drought-tolerant African grass that can be grown in regions where corn and other grains do not thrive.

. . . .


Messing has been honored for his contribution to humanity and received international recognition for his accomplishments in genetic engineering which enabled the deciphering of the genetic code  of crop plants.

Read full, original post: N.J. scientist helps cracks genetic code, then gives it away

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