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In Other Words: New York Times Article - Andrew Pollack:"What's that smell. Exotic Scents Made From Re-engineered Yeast"

It's not often that I get to talk about what is actually happening at my own company which in many ways makes posting about what I really care about even harder. But as it turns out, today, I don't actually need to say much about all the exciting science, and development going on at Amyris. I don't have to because a New York Times article recently talking about all the great things happening at Amyris - with some things being more speculative than others. The article did such a good job explaining in layman's terms what it is that Amyris is doing, that I am just going to link the article to this blog article and call it "In Other Words". I recommend everyone reading this: What's that smell. Exotic Scents Made From Re-engineered Yeast


For those too lazy to read the entire article, here is a brief summary that doesn't do the article the right service:
  • The concept is not new. Yeast and sugar have been used for a long time now to make alcohol. The tricky part is trying to teach yeast cells  not to make alcohol but other useful products.
  • This is where genetic engineering and synthetic biology come in: Applying these tools it is possible to add instructions to the yeast library so that they know how to make other products.
  •  Positive impacts: reduce price volatility of raw materials, relieve pressure on some overharvested wild plants, or animals (like sharks).
  • Other companies are making yeast-made vanillin (Evolva), valencene and nootkatone (Isobionics and Allyix).
  • Negative impacts: potential negative impacts to the few export products of developing nations.
  • Discussion of GMO and made from genetically modified organisms vs how natural a product is ensues.
  • Big companies are investing in small start-ups. E.g.: BASF started a partnership with Allylix (interesting!).
  • Speculative: Amyris is working with Michelin. Amyris is working on patchouli with Firmenich.
  • Discussion on the impact of synthetically derived products on lowering costs vs the scare for farmers and the effect on planting behavior using Dr. Keaslings remarks as a launch point.
  • The article ends with Professor Keasling saying that all these efforts are about saving lives of children.
Anyways, do you have any thoughts after reading this article?

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