Amyris’s breakthroughs in bioengineering—and its plans to make biofuels from Brazilian sugarcane—promised to transform how the world’s businesses produce energy, cosmetics, and medicine. Then reality (and Wall Street) got in the way.
The climb up the steel steps is dizzying—like ascending the tower of a European church, except the steps lead to a platform bolted to the side of a gleaming new chemical plant. Here in Brazil, under a brilliant blue sky, Eduardo Loosli, the plant manager, pauses to explain a vision of the future. “I used to manage a Molson Coors beer manufacturing plant, and it’s not all that different,” he says, leaning on a railing and surveying the scene around us. Directly below is a cityscape of huge stainless-steel tanks. Out beyond the tanks, and stretching far into the distance, are dense greenfields of sugarcane.