Novo Nordisk's Mean Green Machine

When scientists at Denmark's Novo Nordisk--and even their families--go on vacation, they pack more than their swimsuits: They fill their suitcases with soil-collection kits to gather exotic, enzyme-producing microbes. It pays off. In the soil of an Indonesian Monkey Temple, the father of a Novo scientist unearthed an enzyme that is now widely used by soft-drink suppliers to change starch into sugar. In a pile of leaves at a Copenhagen cemetery, a researcher picked up a bug that produces an enzyme that can be used in detergents to help remove protein stains. "We're trying to find natural solutions to industrial problems," explains Lisbeth Anker, who heads Novo's worldwide microbe search.

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