New Zealander Peter Molan, the scientist behind the worldwide success of the country’s unique Manuka honey, has died of cancer at age 71.
It was not until Molan came along that the special medicinal value of Manuka honey was uncovered. Before that, beekeepers gave it away because of its strong taste and the government paid farmers to clear Manuka from their land.
A Welshman, Molan moved to New Zealand in 1973 to work at Waikato University.
He began his research into the antiseptic properties of Manuka honey in 1981 and it turned into a 31-year calling.
“I tried to tell medical people about it and they weren’t interested,” he once told the Waikato Times newspaper. “I realized I’d have to do the research myself to get the scientific explanation of how it worked.”
He became professor of biological sciences and was director of the university’s Honey Research Unit from 1995 till retirement in 2013.
He was made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 995 with the citation proclaiming his work had been the single most important factor in changing the perceived value of Manuka honey.
Not all Manuka honey is antibacterial active and when controversy broke out over this, he created the Molan Gold Standard – recognized by the Ministry of Primary Industries – as the system for grading the honey according to its methylglyoxal active ingredient.