New Harvest was founded in 2004 to support the development of cultured meat (AKA “lab-grown meat”) and other cell culture-based foods.

We fund food technology research that remains in the public domain with the aim of establishing the field of cellular agriculture.

Why cultured meat? Meat production is a leading driver of climate change, a massive burden on environmental resources, and a breeding ground for epidemic disease. Cultured meat holds a lot of promise in feeding a growing population more safely and efficiently.

Who we are:

• Isha has published peer-reviewed research on this topic and has been CEO of New Harvest since January 2013.

• Daan worked in the lab of Dr. Mark Post, where the famous cultured beef hamburger was created. (https://nl.linkedin.com/in/daan-luining-8a423064)

• Gilonne has been working with policymakers, philanthropists, and companies to build the field of cellular agriculture.

Some links you may be interested in:

Some of our current projects

• Awesome recent overviews of our work in FastCo.Exist

• New Harvest’s Facebook page, Facebook community group, Twitter and Instagram

Proof: Photo of us and a video of a talk I did at SXSW Eco.

Comments: 579 • Responses: 73  • Date: 

JuanNephrota164 karma

Since Bovine Growth Serum is required for the production of lab grown meat and it must be harvested from fetal calves, how does lab grown meat reduce meat production demands?

ishadatar208 karma

(Daan here) You are completely right! One of our main research focus is the replacement of serum in the growth medium. There is a nice paper on this that suggests using micro algae to produce the components that are necessary for cell to grow. This in combination with the emerging CRISP/Cas9 technique could be the end of FBS. Also, if you can create this medium you can create a company around it to provide it for all cell culture labs, creating revenue that can be used to develop cultured meat. This way you can make money on one of the problems (Pulz O., Gross W. (2004) Valuable products from biotechnology of microalgae. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology Vol 65 (6), ss 635-648)

mamaBiskothu52 karma

While calf serum is added to a big fraction of cell culture now, it's generally done so because there are many factors cells need which can be difficult to pinpoint to. But it can be identified with some effort. That process however is better done at a later stage, it probably makes sense to focus on getting all the other aspects of these culture systems fleshed out before focusing on serum free media formulations. But it can be done and it's not hard, it's just time consuming.

ishadatar61 karma

We agree!! It's like this magic potion... it works but we don't know how/why.

alberttpatrick148 karma

Public enthusiasm and energy are important for new technologies like this. However, there's always a balance between the desire for momentum and the risk of developments being over-presented, whether from companies hoping to get funding, or researchers hoping to get published. What do you think is the best way to avoid this, and keep enthusiasm growing at a healthy pace without forgoing realism?

Also, thanks for doing this!

ishadatar178 karma

This is an AMAZING question. There is WAY too much hype about cultured meat right now! People often ask me where to buy it, or they think it's already common in fast food. It's not.

We're trying to bring the most realism to this discussion rather than hyping things. But of course the media tends to say things like "the race is on!" and so on.

Poka-chu32 karma

the media tends to say things like "the race is on!" and so on.

Ha, don't worry. They've been saying that about Fusion since the 50ies, and are showing no sign of ever stopping to say it. Hasn't been a problem for the popularity of the idea.

ishadatar3 karma

Fair enough, but have we been working on it? Or is it totally neglected like this work?

SoNowWhat85 karma

Will your technology be able to compete economically with factory farms?

ishadatar131 karma

(Daan here) Not at the moment. There are some key innovation areas that we are funding and trying to set up. Some of these are cell expansion (multiplying the cells as much as possible) and growth media development (what the cell eat to grow). These areas are still in the development stage and we are funding researchers to explorer them. When we have an better understanding of these things we hope to reduce the cost of the manufacturing processes and this way eventually compete with factory farms. Thank you for your great question!

ishadatar133 karma

(Isha here) I think it's very safe to say that the price of animal products can only go up, considering that we use 70% of all agricultural land for animal farming. Plus there are always disease outbreaks that cause big culls (like the 50 million chickens that needed to be culled because of an avian flu last spring).

And the price of cultured meat can only come down.

And maybe also importantly, what is the price of factory farmed meat, if we removed subsidies? If cultured meat was as heavily subsidized as conventional meat, we'd probably be in a much better place.

darkpramza19 karma

While I definitely understand the argument about subsidization of factory farmed meat, that seems unlikely to change in the near future. Is cultured meat still going to be economically viable while having to compete with such a subsidized product? And I don't mean at the same prices - many people would be willing to pay more for harm-free meat, but will it be affordable as a treat for someone who is lower/middle class?

ishadatar35 karma

Ultimately we don't know until it happens, and there are many more research questions to answer, but there is no clear reason why it wouldn't be possible.

Armchair12363 karma

What do you see as the greatest obstacles in bringing cultured meat to market?

ishadatar158 karma

(Daan here) The greatest obstacle would be the psychological aspect of it. The benefits are very clear: no harm to animals, environmental relieve. However it is understandable that some people don't like the idea of eating something that was grown in a laboratory. I think this will chance over time with education and understanding.

NavalMilk31 karma

Hell, I'll try it when it becomes available. I think most people in general care more about cost and immediate health effects than anything.

If you can say:

  1. "It's cheaper than farmed animals."

  2. "It won't make you sick or kill you."

That's 80-90% of consumers right there. The environmental aspect is just gravy on the meat pie.

UniverseBomb38 karma

1 is taste, and if it cooks the same.

QuinineGlow32 karma

Agreed. Bottom line: if lab meat cannot replicate the texture and mouth-feel of a nice marbled filet it will not fill or even really compete with actual meat producers in that aspect of production. That's not to say there wouldn't be room for it in replacing live-animal meat in lower-quality-type products, such as the processed meats.

Frankly that's a more realistic goal, anyway.

ishadatar11 karma

(Daan here) you are completely right sir!

sprawn51 karma

I heard an interview in which a developer of cultured meat discussed how cultured meat has the added benefit of being a far less likely source of harmful viruses as the meat is grown in controlled conditions with much greater opportunities for testing at all stages. I am aware of cultured meats positive aspects like freeing up land that would be wasted on grazing for other use (or return to "wild" status), and the great benefits of reduced water and calorie input per gram of meat produced. What are some other rarely mentioned benefits (unforeseen positive consequences) of cultured meat?

ishadatar78 karma

(Daan here) One of my personal hobbies is space and space travel. This technique would allow for food production in outer space or on other planets. Think about it, we are not going to shoot a cow up into space and plants cost a lost of water and need fertile soil. So a great source of food would be a small vile of muscle cells that can be grown indefinite. Thank you for the great question!

Mortress36 karma

I didn't know cultured milk and rhino horns(!) were also in development.

  • The study on your website says the environmental cost of cultured meat is a lot lower than that of conventional meat, how does the environmental cost compare to plant foods?

  • Will cultured animal products eventually eliminate the need for farmed animals, or does it require some input of conventional animal products?

ishadatar48 karma

Yeah! We shouldn't think of success as one product. Instead it's a whole, diverse, industry where animal products need not come from animals (factory farmed, poached, or otherwise).

Yeah - plant-based foods are still probably more environmentally friendly than cultured meat would be. But we haven't done research on that. Also that Environmental Impacts study should be taken with a grain of salt because it's looking at impacts of a process that was theoretical at the time. And still is, today.

Will cultured animal products eventually eliminate the need for farmed animals, or does it require some input of conventional animal products?

Maybe. I think the most realistic future is one where "meat" and "milk" mean a lot of different things. Like "energy" does today. So I don't think it will replace all animal farming though I guess it's possible. Today most tissue culture requires the use of fetal bovine serum, which comes from animal farming, and is extremely unsustainable and inhumane. We're working on replacing that.

runnerdood35 karma

Which current projects to advance this field are the most promising?

ishadatar53 karma

There are multiple and in different stages. Memphis meats just revealed their cultured meatball http://www.memphismeats.com/

A British pHD candidate (Abi Aspen Glencross) just started her research on co-culturing cells and 3D scaffolds.

Marie Gibbons is writing a proposal for exploring cultured avian

These are just some of the current projects that are happening because of New Harvest. There is not one project but many, and they are all needed to make this a success. Thank you for your great question!

ishadatar45 karma

Isha here - the main issue is that there isn't a lot of work in general happening in this area. It seems like there's this huge population of scientists working on it, but it's actually really small, and they all have some affiliation with us. We're trying to establish this field of research as a legitimate one that governments would fund.

HookEmTexx28 karma

So uhhmm, hows it taste??

ishadatar42 karma

I tasted cultured meat in the form of a "steak chip"... tissue grows about 0.5mm thick in culture, beyond that you need some way to get nutrients into the tissue (blood vessels). It was cool, had this beef bouillon flavour and was like 75% protein or more? It was awesome to see that meat could exist in these formats that we've never seen it in before, and that we could maybe have high protein fitness chips one day!!

ishadatar24 karma

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkbLVamdUEY

Not yet how we would like it to taste because of the absence of fat and tissue structure.

dorable726 karma

When can consumers expect to be able to purchase lab-grown meat?

ishadatar44 karma

(Daan here) This is one of the most asked questions and the hardest to answer. It depends on man/women hours on the project, money, breakthroughs and a bit of luck. There is no clear point in the future. If tomorrow the government devoted money to the projects it will significantly speed up the process. If animal farmers would try to oppose the idea it will slow down. The only real answer I can give you is that I don't know but we are doing everything we can to make this happen ASAP! Thank you for you great question!

joeblack19828 karma

How much (government) money would be neccessary to significantly speed up the process?

ishadatar13 karma

(Daan here) Enough to finance some PhDs but the exact number I won't be able to tell you. I also depends on the progress of the science of the researchers which is something that is unpredictable since the experiments can work the first time (they rarely do) or not at all. I hope this satisfies your question.

dontbesuchajerk26 karma

I just want to thank you for your work. As a member of the veg*n community, this gives me hope for the end of systematic animal abuse and murder. What are your thoughts on the rising mock-meat industry like BeyondMeat, Quorn and Field Roast?

ishadatar31 karma

We think it's awesome. People often say that plant-based meats are getting really good, so why bother with cultured animal products. The reason is that diversity is resilience, and we need a bunch of different products to be defined as "meat"... just like how energy was previously mostly coal, we now have a diversified energy portfolio of wind, solar, etc., that decreases our reliance on coal.

We need to decrease our reliance on factory farming, by whatever means necessary. Factory farming is the coal of animal products.

monkite16 karma

I would imagine that a combination of cultured meat and a vegetarian mock alternative like Quorn could help boost the popularity of both products in the short term. Cultured meat lacks structure, Quorn lacks meaty flavor; cultured meat with Quorn, on the other hand, would seem to have the best of both worlds. Is this an option worth considering?

ishadatar18 karma

Absolutely. We are unnecessarily thinking about plant-based and cultured foods as totally distinct categories. There could be a blend... say you culture some important nutritional/flavour factors from muscle tissue and add it to plant-based material? Or culture tasty animal fat and add it to plant-based stuff? The opportunities are endless!!!

bluuelight5 karma

I have a question for you, purely theoretical - considering that opposition towards the consumption of animals and animal products sometimes comes from an ethical objection (specifically the imposition of human will/life over an animal's), could the cultured meat products that may one day be available ever be considered truly veg*n when the cell lines needed to develop the cultured meats originally came from animal sources?

ishadatar11 karma

Good question. It depends on what makes a vegn a vegn... some people care about environmental impact, some care about the use of an animal. I guess what I'm saying is that it's up to the eater, not us, to decide if it's right for them.

ballabas25 karma

Have you consulted rabbinic authorities on the possibility of obtaining kosher certification on lab-grown meat?

ishadatar54 karma

Rabbi Shlomo Yaffe of Newton MA believes that cultured meat is kosher because it's not really meat as no animal was killed to obtain it. Theoretically, you could have kosher pork.

kickasschemist43 karma

Kosher bacon, the dream is real.

ishadatar38 karma

It is! We might make that our next fundraising campaign!!

IAmButtHurtAMA21 karma

Hey there! Thanks for taking the time to do an AMA!

Does cultured meat pose any significant negative health risks? I know there's lots of anti GMO stuff out there, is there any 'anti cultured-meat' groups out there yet?

ishadatar38 karma

We don't know. We don't have enough people working on this to have material to test. But consider that the current animal ag industry is the source of a) antibiotic resistance, which is a huge huge threat for humans, b) epidemic viruses, which are emerging more often than ever before, and c) foodborne illness, because animals have guts with fecal bacteria in it.

So I think if making meat looked more like brewing beer, we'd have more sterile, clean environments, and if something "went wrong" it would be contained. Though really I am not sure what could go wrong that wouldn't be worse than what comes out of intensive animal farming.

Ivalesce20 karma

If lab grown meat becomes mass produced, what are the wastes generated from the process?

ishadatar21 karma

(Daan here) This is a very interesting question! The main "waist" would be the used medium that we fed to the cells. This is probably full with metabolites. What types of metabolites I don't know but it is likely to have lactic acid in there. Lactic acid can be used for a lot of things like syndiotactic polylactide (PLA), which is a biodegradable polyesters. PLA is an example of a plastic that is not derived from petrochemicals. Also is used in pharmaceutical technology to produce water-soluble lactates from otherwise-insoluble active ingredients and many more applications. This way we can use the waist to form new compounds. I once read somewhere : there is no waist only raw materials in the wrong place.

e_swartz15 karma

Memphis Meats say they will not sell a product that has been produced by way of use of animal sera in cell culture media formulations. I am aware that low-serum conditions actually promote satellite cell fusion and myotube formation, but what alternatives are being used to promote and maintain a symmetrically renewing satellite cell population in vitro?

Do you see a future where meat is derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, thus avoiding a muscle biopsy altogether?

ishadatar11 karma

(Daan here) A immortal, infinite growing and optimized cell line is what I think the ultimate goal. This way the research being done would be interchangeable and would accumulate. A company like the ATCC could maintain this and would be accessible for everyone. Thank you for your great question!

ishywho15 karma

What is the biggest misconception about cultured foods?

ishadatar36 karma

The biggest misconception is that people think this is common research, and that there is a huge population of researchers working on this.

There aren't. There's a tiny handful, and they are having a really hard time securing funds. This is why New Harvest exists: to build and establish cellular agriculture as a field of research that will be as adequately funded as existing agriculture research.

HomosexualRooster14 karma

Could/would you grow human meat?

ishadatar22 karma

No we wouldn't. And if you think about it, the field of tissue engineering kind of is growing human meat. Most advances in tissue engineering are to grow human organs/tissues!

ishadatar16 karma

(Daan here) Please don't go there

bitcasual13 karma

What about that other stuff(like fat) that's not pure muscle that gives certain types of meat it's characteristic taste and texture, will you also be able to replicate those?

I think it's great what you do. We shouldn't enslave animals for food proposes.

ishadatar9 karma

(Daan here) Abi Aspen Glencross is a PhD student which New Harvest helped get funding for her research. Her research includes co-culture of different cell types. This also needs to be done in combination with fat cells. A good thing is that fat cells are also come from the mesoderm which would allow us to grow massive amounts of mesodermal cell and differentiating them differently and then co-culturing them. Thank you for the great question!

ishywho13 karma

Thank you for dong this AMA! How can we get involved in promoting cultured food?

ishadatar10 karma

Gilonne here!
Thanks so much for your question. Donations! the more research we fund the faster we will build the post-animal bioeconomy. We have a rigorous scientific strategy to build the field of cellular agriculture. Donating to New Harvest is very high impact not only because we are judicious in how we spend donor money but also because of the potential impact of cultured animal products in ending factory farming. Visit our website: www.new-harvest.org Subscribe to our newsletter

monkite3 karma

I've previously been under the impression that cultured meat initiatives are somewhat scattered and unorganized, without a coherent long-term strategy. It's really great to hear that your organization is on top of all known efforts and are advancing a concrete path forward. Can you give us a rough step-by-step outline of your strategy to accelerate cultured meat development?

ishadatar5 karma

Happy to discuss the step by step details offline when we have more time. gilonne@new-harvest.org

Here is the general strategy to meet our mission to build the field of cellular agriculture: 1) fund research 2) convene stakeholders 3) inform the public, policy makers, etc.

Our scientific research strategy is methodical: we catalyze funding, we coordinate researchers to conduct research, we have designed a scientific research strategic path, we initiate research and our scientific board carefully analyzes each research proposal, each project fits in our strategy (the whole is greater than the sum of its parts), we synthesize results and we translate them both for commercial applications and to be understood outside of the scientific community.

To support this, we have growing support on Capitol Hill.

Since New Harvest was created in 2004, we are at the origin of most advances in this field, we have the widest community of stakeholders, and we continue to be the only authority in this space.

ishadatar3 karma

The fastest way to it: https://newharvest.nationbuilder.com/donate-onetime

You're also welcome to email me: gilonne@new-harvest.org

svennesvan11 karma

I think this is an amazing idea with real potential, although I am afraid that it might bring an unexpected backlash.

If your products are able to out compete "real" farmers that have animals such as cows, chickens and so on this will mean a diminish in the population of those animals. It will of course not bring them to extinction, but it will surely reduce their numbers by a great deal. And the open fields and pastures that the great numbers of cattle used to feed on will now be used for other profitable operations, probably crops.

This will be a backlash to plants and animals that specialize in the pasture habitat to survive and reproduce.

Is this something that you have thought about, and what will you do to make sure it does not happen?

ishadatar50 karma

The population of farm animals today is insanely artificial. For one thing, animals don't have sex. Most farmed animals are the product of artificial insemination. Most farmed animals are also female.

And the footprint of meat is so huge because we're deforesting the rainforest to grow corn and soy, to feed to factory farmed animals. The reality is that not that many animals live on nice pastures, and the ones that do, we probably wouldn't affect.

We think that by alleviating the amount of land required for producing animal products actually creates an opportunity for conservation and potential re-wilding. But I guess we don't know for sure what will happen.

picmandan8 karma

Have you discussed possibilities for religious certification? For example, what is the likelihood that cultured beef could be approved and certified as Halal or Kosher?

If so, what could be the implications for approving non-traditional meat (such as cultured pork), as it is not taken from an animal?

ishadatar14 karma

By definition, cultured meat is Kosher and Halal given that, to culture meat, you don't need to kill an animal and Kosher or Halal certifications relate specifically to how the animal was slaughtered, and other religious meat restrictions are restrictions on killing.

Rabbi Shlomo Yaffe of Newton MA believes that cultured meat is kosher because it's not really meat as no animal was killed to obtain it. Theoretically, you could have kosher pork.

emdesch7 karma

What do you think are the best ways we can get people to be more comfortable with the idea of lab-grown meat?

(Thanks for all that you guys are doing!)

ishadatar8 karma

(Daan here) I think the best way is talking about it and asking people why they would eat it and why not. A change like this does not happen overnight. It will take a lot of effort and convincing why this would be a great solution to the problems of farm meat.

VagusNC3 karma

It might not be a direct comparison but cheese seems to be a comparable product that lots of people love. Just a thought.

ishadatar15 karma

We use cheese ALL THE TIME!! The first use of biotech was fermentation, thousands of years ago. Before cheese there was milk. Could we ever have looked at milk and imagined cheese? No (well at least not me)... what kinds of new, amazing foods could we have with cellular agriculture?????? I CAN'T WAIT!

interrupt647 karma

How much of a priority in development of cultured meat is it to match the nutritient content, especially of micronutrients, to that of conventional meat?

ishadatar14 karma

Cultured meat has the potential to improve on the nutrient and micronutrient content of conventional meat and will be free from pesticides, herbicides, hormones, and antibiotics conventional meat is full of.
We are the dawn of a revolution on how we consume animal proteins similar to the dawn of cheese when milk was only milk. The potential for cultured animal products to be healthier, better, more varied is beyond our wildest imagination.

suspiciouscetacean6 karma

How much of your team is vegetarian/vegan? Vegan for 8 months here, vegetarian for a year and a half, I would definitely try humane meat if it was available (at a reasonable price)

ishadatar8 karma

Our community is very diverse - activists, scientists, entrepreneurs, financiers, researchers, high school students, professors, etc. Some are vegan, some vegetarians, some aspire to be. At scale, cultured meat will be humane and considerably more sustainable, affordable, safe, than conventional meat.

sprawn5 karma

It's a painful aspect of fledgling industries that some avenues of exploration are costly, but not fruitful. Huge investments must be made in areas with no fast benefit (thought later that research ends up being valuable). What steps are being taken to insure that the industry as a whole does not get bogged down in intellectual property battles, while at the same time protecting the huge and risky investments that someone is going to have to make to advance the state of the art?

ishadatar8 karma

New Harvest is a non-profit scientific organization catalyzing academic research precisely to address this issue of expensive research and IP issues locked into a company. We are funding research to make the tools and train the people to build future companies that will transform the supply chain of animal products. Until there computer science departments started to appear (Purdue was the first one), there was limited innovation in computer technologies and few innovators to create companies. Google's foundational code was created at Stanford owns that IP, but that has not prevented Google from being one of the most successful companies in history.

neuromorph5 karma

in addition to cultured animal protein, are you investing in high efficiency farming methods? Ie vertical shrimp farming, urban farming, etc.

ishadatar6 karma

No, we're focused exclusively on producing animal products from cell cultures. We think that stuff is great too but we're limited in size, budget, etc. And we see this field as the most neglected in terms of funding.

icrispyKing5 karma

Can one set of cells be grown infinitely? Or do more and more samples need to be taken in order to make more cultured meat. I ask in a way as, eventually down the road when this becomes cheaper and easier, could it produce an "infinite amount" of food to possibly end hunger all around the world?

e_swartz10 karma

dividing cells have a natural limit of cell divisions known as the Hayflick limit which is typically around 50 doublings. This can be avoided by creating an immortalized cell line through some genetic engineering tricks that allow for cells to bypass this limit. Whether or not an agency like the FDA would allow this is yet to be seen. In theory, induced pluripotent stem cells (which can divide indefinitely) could be used to derive meat as well. However, as a cell population doubles it has to replicate its DNA each time and thus the chance of introducing polymorphisms, deletions, insertions, or chromosomal duplications is possible. This matters more in the context of disease-related research as you don't want a messed up genetic background to interfere with your studies. It's possible that in the future there will be standardized meat-producing cell lines which have been proven to be most efficient or have the best taste/texture, etc.

ishadatar9 karma

(Daan here) :) I was typing but you have the right idea. A good way to counter the DNA events is to keep a "mother batch" and do routine full genome sequencing, functionality assays etc. to keep the cell line in shape.

ishadatar6 karma

(Daan here) At the moment we still need cows to extract cells from. The stem cells that we use are what is called terminally differentiated cells. This means that the cell that we are using (satellite cells) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myosatellite_cell) don't have the same growing potential as embryonic stem cells. After about 50 cell divisions, the cells reach their Hayflick limit and go into senescence. That is why we need to extract new cells. There are some solutions to this like: using TERT insertion in the cells which "immortalized" the cells. Another way is the use of mesodermal cells which have a far greater maybe even infinite growth potential. We are aiming to create a cell line that is consistent and has a high growth potential. I hope this answers you great question!

BearPoopnInTheWoods5 karma

As a person who loves meat but hates the process of of producing it, I'd like to thank everyone at New Harvest for doing what you're doing.

I think this new industry is in for some really bad times once you get things to a point of economic viability however. I can't really think of an industry that would be easier to scare people away from, and I'm sure the livestock industry has an plan in place to do just that. How can you hope to overcome the general population's misunderstanding, fear, and ignorance of what you're producing, especially when you have an industry with deep pockets lined up against you?

ishadatar4 karma

Gilonne here

Our work addresses this. At New Harvest, we fund research, we convene stakeholders, and we inform the public. So we work with policy makers, PR and marketing thought leaders, food companies, etc. to address these issues.

Please don't hesitate to contact me: gilonne@new-harvest.org and please donate to help us end factory farming faster: https://newharvest.nationbuilder.com/donate-onetime

Propane135 karma

Do you ever feel like the end product will get to a point where it could be classified as "vegetarian"?

ishadatar7 karma

Not sure. Do you think more or less people would eat it if it was classified as vegetarian? I feel like the label makes it seem like a niche product. (Like if Oreos were marketed as vegan)

foodjerpderp5 karma

Are you worried that some company will buy the intellectual property to a necessary technology and prevent or seriously slow development? Do you have any thoughts on how this can be avoided?

ishadatar6 karma

Yes, we are worried about this. A lot of the original patents on this stuff (which were really broad and not held by anyone who would advance this to fruition) are already expired, so we're in a pretty good place. In general, making a cell divide a lot is not a patentable process, so there will be many workarounds. Not like GMO where you patent a gene and it's pretty much game over.

All the research we fund is public, going to be published in open access journals. We need to build a strong foundation in academic work. From that, companies will sprout. But we need to keep the basis open.

Akronica4 karma

Is the main goal to replicate muscle tissue for that true "meat" experience, or to develop existing source materials, like fungi, into as close of a "meat-like" substance as possible?

ishadatar3 karma

(Daan here) We are really trying to create meat from muscle cells. So no meat like substance

eddiekoski3 karma

How much will it cost me today to enjoy a cultured beef burger?

What % of vegetarians do you thing not eat meet for environmental reasons or animal sympathy reasons,etc... that you think your industry can gain?

ishadatar4 karma

It's not really about changing the diets of vegetarians. It's about getting people who eat a highly unsustainable meat-filled diet to change. Otherwise we achieve no benefit from producing cultured meat in the first place!

sweet__leaf3 karma

Do you think lab-grown pet food will be popular soon? Is that something you see happening within your company?

I have two cats and I feel absolutely terrible feeding them animals, but I know there's not really another option.

ishadatar6 karma

Wouldn't it be great to have cultured meat for animals? You are not alone as a pet owner who feels terrible feeding your pets meat.
The research we are powering will help get closer to a world where we can feed cultured meat to our cats and dogs so they can have a cruelty free nutrition. Also, we are a non-profit, not a company because we need more research to establish the basic tools to make cultured meat and train scientists and entrepreneurs to use them and create awesome new products that will end up in your plate, in your pet's bowl, or on your feet (in the case of leather).

thedeekone3 karma

What are the differences from you and Memphis Meats? How many competitors do you have and to what capacity do you work together with 'competitors'?

ishadatar7 karma

We put together the team behind Memphis Meats. We're a non-profit that funds early stage biotech research (like a cancer foundation). We aren't a for-profit lab, and we give grants to researchers, we don't do research in house.

Everyone who is working on this (that we know of) is in our network, and collaborating to whatever level is possible.

For our academic grantees there is obviously more collaboration than with a for-profit private company.

Gullex3 karma

What is the meat "fed" to make it grow, and how does the efficiency compare to livestock?

ishadatar3 karma

(Daan here) At the moment we feed the cells growth medium, which is a combination of basic nutrients (glucose, amino-acids, salts) antibiotics to prevent infection and a compound called fetal bovine serum. The serum is blood product of cow which the cells respond to because it contains a large amount of growth factors, adhesion proteins and transferrins. One of our main objective is to remove this component for the formulation en replace it with a sustainable one. This is not easy and probably different solutions are doable. One would be to identify which components of the serum are responsible for the reaction of the cells and create these recombinant. This is truly one of the bigger hurdles of the process and without a solution, cultured meat might be unobtainable.

AbsentThatDay3 karma

Do you have the ability to grow chimeric mixes of cells in the same scaffold, such as beef and chicken?

ishadatar3 karma

(Daan here) A chimera is actually a organism composed of cells from different zygotes, so not really different animals. There is little (or at least I have) knowledge on this topic of co-culturing different species. I don't know if it would be beneficial to taste or structure. Would definitely be interesting!

goatsareeverywhere2 karma

I have firsthand experience with culturing cells in vitro and from my experience, it doesn't seem like a practical way to culture massive amounts of meat for human consumption. These are my biggest questions:

  1. How do you maintain the sterility of your cell culture? In the lab, we add ridiculous amounts of antibiotics (pen/strep) to the growth media, otherwise the media gets contaminated really quickly even with good sterile technique. I'm fairly sure people won't want to eat meat that has been pumped full of antibiotics/antifungals as there are already lots of complaints about the usage of these things in commercial farming.

  2. Do you supplement your media with serum? Commercially-available growth media like RPMI and DMEM require supplementation with serum (typically FBS) in order to supply all required factors for cell growth and division. FBS, as is name implies, is sourced from bovine fetuses. Do you have a way to substitute FBS with more humane components or are you still reliant on the cattle industry for this critical component?

  3. Assuming ideal conditions, will this ever be commercially viable? All of the components required for tissue culture are fairly expensive because cultured cells don't have an immune system/liver/kidney etc to regulate homeostasis. If you ever establish a good supply chain and achieve economies of scale, am I going to pay $10/lb for your meat? Or will it be closer to $50/lb?

ishadatar6 karma

(Daan here) The problem with current culturing techniques is that you probably did like 175 cm2 at the time, in a flow cabinet, coating the flasks, mono-layer. That is of course not the way we are planning to do this. That would lead to things like this :http://imgur.com/JIah3W4

We would use a closed fed-batch method and for future plans a chemostat would be the ultimate achievement. For the serum question, I answered that in a previous post (https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/48sn01/we_are_new_harvest_the_nonprofit_responsible_for/d0m8d5l)

Homeostasis for muscles is not to hard to regulate, mainly oxygen, glucose, and metabolite removal or control. Eventual price is impossible to predict also with increasing price for "normal" meat. We hope of course to get is as low as possible so it will be accessible for everyone! Tank you for your great question, if you would like to expand on some topics please do!

goatsareeverywhere2 karma

The closed fed-batch idea sounds like the method used to grow Quorn. However, Quorn works because they use filamentous fungi and have cell walls, while muscle cells kinda need some kind of scaffolding. I'm not sure how this works exactly so I'll reserve judgement on it.

The idea of replacing FBS with microalgae extract seems pretty farfetched at this point in time. The idea is there, but it seems to be at least a decade away. CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering may be a way to shorten that, but the system is definitely not a silver bullet that solves everything and furthermore, the more you try to genetically engineer a product, the greater the public resistance to said product will be. GM foods are still not widely accepted worldwide.

Sorry for being pessimistic, but I think there's still a lot more things to do before this can be commercially viable.

ishadatar6 karma

(Daan again) The fed-batch system would only be used to expand the cells which then will be used for tissue formation. That is a problem all on its own. Using micro algae is just a suggestion and replacing the serum is going to be really hard! If anyone here on reddit has an idea please share! The GMO part wouldn't be on the cells but on the stuff we would feed the cells, which is exactly what we do with the soy and corn that we feed cows today so I don't see the problem. I totally agree that there is a low way to go so I think we better start working! Thank you for taking the time to respond.

goatsareeverywhere6 karma

The technicalities of the culture system are probably over my head. I only have experience growing cells in plates and flasks..

I'll share a personal anecdote about resistance to GM products, even if they're not being directly consumed: A professor in the UK was trying to market a new form of packaging material, made out of byproduct that typically gets wasted. The source of the material was from a GM plant. When the marketing executives heard of the word "GM", they instantly shut the idea down because the general public will freak out when they discover their food came in contact (not even consumed) with GM material. Sounds stupid to me, but it's a real concern.

ishadatar6 karma

(Daan) Unfortunately you are right. That is way New Harvest is not just about progressing this field but also educating people about it. We hope through exposition and conversation people are more willing to accept GMO based products

I_Eat_Face2 karma

[deleted]

ishadatar6 karma

Depends!! If you're a researcher who wants to get involved, check out the grant opportunities on our website, otherwise, just get in touch! isha@new-harvest.org

Ntntacti2 karma

When can expect cultured meat to be commercially available similarly to conventional meat?

What can we do in the mean time to alleviate the strain of our diet on the environment?

ishadatar5 karma

Gilonne here! The more research we fund today, the faster the field of cellular agriculture will be built, the sooner you will see real cultured meat products on shelves. It's probably too early to tell by when cultured meat will be commercially available, but we do know that, without New Harvest's field building strategy whereby we catalyze funding to research, coordinate projects, and synthesize results to help translate them to real life products, it could take decades because research would continue to be very very limited, scattered, and random.

no_outlet2 karma

How do you think farming will change based on the developments in cellular agriculture and the DIYbio community? Are there any movements toward home-based food production?

ishadatar5 karma

Check out #2 on this list: http://www.vox.com/a/explain-food-america (the rest is pretty good too).

I think farming will get better with cellular agriculture. We're envisioning a future where animal product production looks like beer brewing. Anyone can brew beer - massive companies, small companies, people in their homes. It's artisanal biotech. I'd like to see the same diversity in industry exist for animal products, rather than the huge, vertically integrated monopolies that exist today (in America).

the_matriarchy2 karma

What have been your major contributions to the development of vegan meat alternatives?

ishadatar5 karma

We don't really contribute to alternatives. Our focus is building meat that is identical at the cellular/molecular level. The product isn't an alternative. What is alternative is how it got to your plate.

the_matriarchy3 karma

Ok, sure. That's mainly a semantic point. What have been your major contributions to non-agricultural meat sources, then?

Retarded-scv2 karma

Seems like companies like impossible foods and beyond meat have a much more viable strategy for making animal-less meat because they do not require nobel-prize level advances in cell culture. The bonus with those companies is that they have a much smaller carbon footprint vs. needing to culture cells. Why do you think your company is at all competitive with those companies?

ishadatar3 karma

First of all, we're not a company. We're a non-profit research organization that is providing grants to researchers working on animal products made without animals. Meat is just one of many things (milk, eggs, gelatin, etc.)

Plant-based foods have been around for literally thousands of years (Buddhism) and we haven't seen them take off enough to offset growing meat consumption. Perhaps these new companies will be able to do that. But I think we need to try everything we can to make a dent.

Further, in funding research, it's ideal for philanthropic investment to go towards high impact future possibilities.

Tresdragones2 karma

Is this meat ever considered 'alive?' once it's grown?

ishadatar3 karma

Good question. Cells are alive. So I guess while it's growing it's alive. But eventually it will die because of a lack of nutrients. The meat we eat is dead (the animal goes through rigor mortis, that causes acidification of meat, to lead to meat. Live muscle is not the same as meat.)

spaceneenja2 karma

When and/or how will I be able to add this technology to my investment portfolio?

ishadatar3 karma

Gilonne here

NOW! investing in New Harvest is the ultimate low risk high reward investing. By fueling academic research we are building a solid foundation of science and talent to accelerate deal flow of promising and exciting investments. Unlike research in companies, research in academia always yields useful results and instead of being limited by talent retention, generations of entrepreneurs are being educated year after year, learning to create basic tools, use them, and create a future beyond our wildest imagination. Most of our significant donors are investors who want to invest in these new technologies sooner rather than later. They know that the fastest way to get there is to fund New Harvest because our strategy is solid, focused, and effective. Most outright advances in cellular agriculture originate from New Harvest and most cellular agriculture food companies are closely related to New Harvest. Please don't hesitate to contact me. I'd love to discuss further with you: gilonne@new-harvest.org

warrenXG2 karma

Do you understand how utterly vile this is to some people?

ishadatar6 karma

Yes. I can think of other things that people might find utterly vile... factory farming? Or on the tech side, IVF?

gefasel2 karma

Are you seeing much opposition or threats from big animal agricultural businesses?

ishadatar4 karma

Not at this point. Decoupling animals from the supply chain of animal products derricks it by removing the most dangerous, expensive, volatile element of the supply chain. So, cultured animal products are a very appealing proposition for most companies that rely on animals for the ingredients in their products.

ootuoyetahi1 karma

Serious question, why would I want this?

ishadatar8 karma

Straight copy/pasting from our website, but this is why (unless you're vegetarian or vegan, I guess!)

The way we mass-produce animal products today is a serious threat to the environment, public health, and animals.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT 18% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock farming. By contrast, global transportation accounts for 13%. 26% Earth’s ice-free surface is used for livestock farming. This represents 70% of all agricultural land. 27-29% of humanity’s freshwater footprint is used for the production of animal products. Livestock farming is a top contributor to deforestation, land degradation, water pollution and desertification.

PUBLIC HEALTH IMPACT Viral Outbreaks: Epidemic viruses arise from the crowded conditions of livestock farming. Swine and avian flu, which affected people all over the world, originated from livestock farming. Antibiotic Resistance: About 80% of all antibiotics are given to livestock. These are the same antibiotics used by humans, and is therefore the largest contributor to antibiotic resistance. Food Contamination: Virtually all bacterial-contamination-caused foodborne illness arises from livestock farming. Foodborne bacteria like Salmonella spp. and E.coli come from animal waste and can contaminate animal products as well as fruits and vegetables. Further, by their very nature as living, sentient beings, animals pose potentially costly risks all along the livestock product supply chain.

An Insecure Supply: Disease can spread very quickly among crowded animals, leading to drastic losses for farmers. For example, in May 2015, as a result of an avian flu in the Midwest United States, 48 million chickens were culled, costing the American taxpayer almost $1bn, sending the price of eggs up by 84.5% between May and June 2015.5 An Inconsistent Supply: Animal products must be constantly quality controlled, as the product is affected by the environment, diet and health of the animals. There is a huge amount of variation in animal products, despite major efforts to maintain consistency. An Unsafe Supply: Animal products are regularly recalled due to, among other things, contamination from foodborne-illness causing bacteria. Food-borne illnesses are estimated to cost about $152 bn a year in the United States.6

THE IMPACT ON ANIMALS In 2007, the FAO estimated that more than 56 billion land animals were raised and slaughtered for food. A large proportion of these animals are raised in very poor welfare conditions in factory farms. Some of the practices that farmed animals endure include:

Intense confinement Castration without painkillers Illness without veterinary care or euthanasia Trampling and suffocation from overcrowding Being transported long distances, live Being dragged or prodded to slaughter Imperfect slaughter procedures

The FAO anticipates global demand for animal products to increase by 70% in 2050, to feed 9.6 billion people. The further mass production of animals will only lead to more animal welfare challenges.

Considering the impacts, threats, and challenges of livestock farming, it is extremely important that we explore different ways to feed our growing global population.

mmmolives1 karma

Has anyone decided on palatable names for cultured meat for when it is widely available? I love the idea but surely there is a tastier sounding name than "cultured meat". What will it be called at the grocery store?

ishadatar2 karma

Cultured meat is a name for the category. Like cultured diamonds or cultured pearls. They are still diamonds and pearls, just created a different way. I am sure that when a company brings this to market, they will have a branded name. We fund research, as a non-profit research organization, so there's no need to create marketing terms.