25 No. 3
May - June 2003
guest column is by Edwin (Ed) P. Przybylowicz, elected member
of the IUPAC Bureau and Executive Committee since 1998, and
member of the IUPAC Finance Committee since 1993. In 1991,
after over 35 years with the Eastman Kodak Company, Przybylowicz
retired as senior vice president and director of research.
He is an ex-officio member of the U.S. National Committee
for IUPAC, which he chaired until 2002.
Challenge to the Worlds Scientists
a recent editorial in Science,1 U.N. Secretary
General Kofi Annan wrote about the important contributions
that science must make to world peace and prosperity:
scientific communitys basic concern for human welfare
makes it an indispensable partner of the United Nations.
With your help, the world can achieve the blue revolution
it so urgently needs to deal with current and emerging water
crises. Your research can enable Africa to move toward a
green revolution that will boost agricultural
productivity. Your solidarity can help developing countries
build up their capacity to participate effectively in negotiations
of international treaties and agreements involving science."
importance of what organizations like IUPAC can contribute
to these tasks cannot be underestimated. A number of IUPAC
activities, such as past and future CHEMRAWN conferences2
and recent IUPAC reports,3 have addressed
or will address issues that Secretary General Annan refers
to in his editorial.
year, the World Bank published World Development Report
2000/2001: Attacking Poverty, an extensive analysis of
world poverty and recommended actions to address this urgent
problem. The report explains, and the data confirm, the reasons
why certain nations find it difficult to rise above the poverty
level. The lack of significant innovation within a country
is a major contributor to the problem.
number of patent applications filed by domestic inventors
is one metric of the innovation activity within a country.
There is a strong correlation between innovation activity
and the economic well being of a country. The World Bank data
show that in high-income countries, there was 1 domestic patent
filing for every 1300 people (in 1997); in middle-income countries,
1 patent application for every 20 000 people; and in low-income
countries, 1 patent application was filed for every 144 000
people. There are many related reasons for this discrepancy.
One of those reasons is that there are five times as many
scientists and technologists in research and development activities
in high-income countries than medium-income countries. Low-income
countries are even further disadvantaged. This factor along
with capital-formation differences between these countries
leads to the uneven distribution of economic growth throughout
General Annans editorial could not have stated it better:
has contributed immensely to human progress and to the development
of modern society. The application of scientific knowledge
continues to furnish powerful means for solving many of
the challenges facing humanity, from food security to diseases
such as AIDS, from pollution to the proliferation of weapons.
Recent advances in information technology, genetics, and
biotechnology hold extraordinary prospects for individual
well being and that of humankind as a whole."
points out the inequality of scientific activity between the
rich and developing countries, and states that "it will require
the commitment of scientists and scientific institutions throughout
the world to change that portrait to bring the benefits of
science to all."
on Secretary General Annans editorial and our vision
statement"IUPAC advances the worldwide role of chemistry
for the benefit of Mankind"it is clear that IUPAC is
one of the "bridge builders" in our global society. It must
not only help bridge the gaps between rich and poor countries,
but also bring scientific understanding to international peace-building
efforts to end and prevent conflict in the world.
. . it is clear that IUPAC is one of the "bridge
builders" in our global society.
in chemistry are made by creative and innovative scientists
and technologists throughout the world. The "hotbeds" of invention
and innovation have migrated around the globe over the past
150 years. In chemistry, European countries provided much
of the leadership throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.
North America began to provide many innovations in chemistry
during the mid- and latter part of the 20th century and Asia
began to gain strength in the latter parts of the 20th century.
A look at the country of origin of Nobel Laureates in chemistry
shows this same migration throughout the world.
trends are evidence that chemistry has been international
in scope for well over a century. Furthermore, it underscores
the "seamlessness" with which chemists interact. Common language,
nomenclature, standards, and education using the written,
spoken, and "electronic" word are indispensable if chemistry
is to benefit all countries of the world.
the past 80 years, IUPAC has been providing an international
chemical infrastructure to facilitate the development of chemistry
throughout the world. The History of IUPAC by Roger Fennell4
documents the development of the organization. According to
this record, the first truly international chemical conference
took place in Karlsruhe, Germany, as far back as September
1860. The primary "mover" behind the conference was Auguste
Kekule, of benzene structure fame. The objective of that conference
was the standardization of nomenclature and formulae in the
publication and presentation of scientific papers. Consensus
apparently was not reached in this first meeting, since almost
30 years later another international conference, this time
in Paris in 1889, addressed the same issues. From that effort
an International Commission of Chemical Nomenclature was created.
This led to a succession of international conferences from
which the Geneva Nomenclature emerged as the first international
agreement on the naming of chemical compounds.
this same period, industrial organizations held their first
international conferences, covering such fields as sugar refining,
precision apparatus, chemistry applied to medicine, toxicology,
and pharmacy. It was clear that chemistry was transcending
national boundaries and there was a need for international
communication in the field and standardization of nomenclature
and physical constants if chemistry was to progress as an
development of international consensus on what can be considered
operational matters in chemistry (i.e., nomenclature, atomic
weights, physical constants, etc.) gained momentum through
a series of international conferences and confederations of
national chemical societies in the early 20th century that
finally led, in 1919, to the formation of IUPAC. IUPAC began
to play an important role in developing, as Professor Zamaraev4
of Russia called it, "the international language of chemistry."
Chemistry made enormous strides throughout the 20th century
in the developed countries of the world and became an enabling
science and technology for the advancement of mankind.
example, in health and medicine, chemistry was key to the
development of morphine, aspirin, cortisone, insulin, medical
imaging, penicillin, cancer chemotherapeutics, and cardiovascular
drugs. Agriculture has benefited from the Haber-Bosch process
for the production of ammonia, crop protection and pest management
agents, and pesticides. Food processing, preparation, and
packaging have benefited from advances in refrigerants. Food
additives such as vitamins, sweeteners, and packaging have
ensured longer shelf life and safety for foods. In the areas
of energy and transportation, chemistry has provided efficient
fuels and many critical chemical intermediates derived from
crude oil, such as advanced materials for roadways and bridges,
metal alloys for aircraft, and high-performance plastics for
international chemical community can justifiably take pride
in the accomplishments that its field has provided humankind
over the past 150 years. Reflecting on these accomplishments
should give us confidence that the challenge given to us by
Secretary General Annan in his editorial, while daunting,
can and will be solved by scientists throughout the world,
including chemists. All it will take is the active involvement
of chemists throughout the world in addressing these problems.
I continue to believe that IUPAC can and will play an important
role in this future challenge.
Annan, Kofi, Science, 299, 1485, March 7, 2003.
Norling, Parry, Chemistry
Impact of Scientific Developments on the Chemical Weapons
Convention (IUPAC Technical Report), Pure
and Applied Chemistry,
74(12), pp. 2323-2352, 2002.
Fennell, Roger, History
of IUPAC 1919-1987, Foreword by Kirill Zamaraev, Blackwell
last modified 29 April 2003.
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