Mission & Vision
Our mission is to build and establish the field of cellular agriculture.
Our vision is a strong foundation of accessible, public, fundamental cellular agriculture research, upon which a post-animal bioeconomy may be built, where animal products are harvested from cell cultures, not animals, to feed a growing global population sustainably and affordably.
New Harvest is advancing the science behind producing animal products without animals. For example, egg white proteins made by bioreactors instead of laying hens in battery cages.
It is time to re-think the supply chain of animal products.
By applying advances in tissue engineering and synthetic biology to growing food, we can revolutionize the supply chain of animal products to continue to provide affordable and sustainable food to a growing population. We call this "cellular agriculture."
Cellular agriculture is an emerging field of research that lies at the intersection of medical science and food science. There is expertise in tissue engineering and cell culture in medical science, while the application of this work is in food science. Unfortunately, neither of these fields have taken ownership of cellular agriculture, which is why New Harvest is the sole group advancing this work.
Thanks to cellular agriculture, we can produce eggs, milk, meat, and more without intensive crop and animal farming. Unfortunately, this nascent field is not well supported by existing research funding mechanisms.
This is where New Harvest comes in.
Our goal is to plant the seeds of this crucial new field of research.
What We Do
We are a research institute dedicated to accelerating the pace of innovation in cellular agriculture. As the nonprofit nucleus of a constellation of start-ups racing to bring cell-based foods to market, we build the academic foundation necessary to sustain longevity and ongoing innovation in this nascent field.
New Harvest supports supports ideas that are not funded by traditional sources, either because the research is too early stage or because it lies outside the parameters of existing grants. Our targeted funding is designed to yield effective new biotech tools for the production of cell-based foods.
By funding open science at the academic level, we redress the IP-inefficiency that occurs when pre-competitive research is conducted by private companies and excluded from the public domain.
WE FUND AND CONDUCT
critical open, public, collaborative research that advances discoveries in cellular agriculture but is lacking support from conventional funding channels in industry or academia. Check out our graduate fellowship program, postdoctoral fellowship program, seed grant program, and dissertation award.
WE BRING TOGETHER THE COMMUNITY
that is building this field (scientists, academia, funders, industry, policy-makers, regulatory authorities, prospective consumers, etc.), fostering dialogues and collaboration.
WE EDUCATE AND INFORM
stakeholders and the public at large of what cellular agriculture research is, and why it is necessary, in an honest, transparent, science-based manner.
Cell-based meat presents a unique opportunity to bypass the environmentally catastrophic systems that undergird industrial agriculture. Unfortunately, federal grants relevant to the building blocks of cell based meat –cells, scaffolds, media, and bioreactors—are siloed for medical research.
This is where New Harvest comes in.
We provide the additional money necessary for researchers to pursue agricultural and marine applications of traditionally medical science.
Why We Do It
The way we mass-produce animal products today is a serious threat to the environment, public health, and animals.
- 18% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock farming. By contrast, global transportation accounts for 13%.1
- 26% Earth’s ice-free surface is used for livestock farming. This represents 70% of all agricultural land.2
- 27-29% of humanity’s freshwater footprint is used for the production of animal products.3
- Livestock farming is a top contributor to deforestation, land degradation, water pollution and desertification.4
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.
Cellular agriculture could be how we safely and sustainably feed our growing global population.
- Steinfeld, Henning (2006) Livestock's long shadow: environmental issues and options. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
- Ibid FAO (2006) and in FAO 2012 Report Livestock and Landscapes
- Hoekstra, Arjen Y. (2012) The hidden water resource use behind meat and dairy, Twente Water Centre, University of Twente, PO Box 217, 7522AE Enschede, the Netherlands
- Koneswaran, Gowri et al. (2008) Global Farm Animal Production and Global Warming: Impacting and Mitigating Climate Change. Environmental Health Perspectives. 116.5 (2008): 578–582. PMC. (retrieved 28 Apr. 2015)
- US Department of Labor statistics
- Hoffmann, Sandra et al. (2012) Annual Cost of Illness and Quality-Adjusted Life Year Losses in the United States Due to 14 Foodborne Pathogens, Journal of Food Protection®, Number 7, July 2012, pp. 1184-1358, pp. 1292-1302(11)
New Harvest was founded in 2004 by Jason Matheny, who became interested in cultured meat after researching infectious diseases in India for a Master’s degree in public health. After touring a poultry farm outside Delhi, he recognized the need for a new way to meet a global demand for meat.
When Jason returned to the States, he read about a NASA-funded project that “grew” goldfish meat to explore food possibilities for astronauts on long-range space missions. He contacted all 60 of the cited authors and teamed up with three to consider the viability of producing cultured meat on a large scale. He founded New Harvest June 23, 2004.
In late 2004, New Harvest was invited to present on cultured meat at the PROFETAS (PROtein Foods, Environment, Technology, and Society) conference in Wageningen, in the Netherlands. Following this, Jason met with the Dutch Agriculture Minister to advise on funding cultured meat research.
On May 1, 2005, the Dutch cultured meat project began. It was a €2 million project that was to be subdivided into 3 different areas: 1) stem cell biology, conducted at Utrecht University; 2) tissue engineering, conducted at Eindhoven Technical University; and 3) culture media, conducted at the University of Amsterdam.
In 2005, Pieter Edelman, Doug MacFarland, Vladimir Mironov, and Jason Matheny published “In vitro cultured meat production” in the journal Tissue Engineering. It generated considerable public and scientific interest in cultured meat and in New Harvest. This was the first modern-day scientific publication on an idea that has been around for nearly a century.
In 2006, New Harvest began to provide funding from its donors to the Dutch cultured meat effort.
In 2007, New Harvest began collaborating with the Europe-based In Vitro Meat Consortium. Stig William Omholt of Norway played a key role in the development of the Consortium, whose mission was “to promote scientific excellence and to coordinate and fund research contributing to the establishment of competitive alternatives to conventional meat production.” On April 9, 2008, the Consortium put on the First International In-Vitro Meat Symposium, which took place at the Norwegian Food Research Institute in Norway. Unfortunately, the Consortium dissipated shortly after due to a lack of funding dedicated to cultured meat.
In August 2011, the European Science Foundation put on an exploratory workshop called “In vitro meat: Possibilities and realities for an alternative future meat source” in Gothenburg, Sweden, convened by Julie Gold and Stellan Welin. The main objectives of the workshop were to assess the state-of-the-art of the field and to identify major bottlenecks, and competences needed in order to overcome them. It was at this conference when the scientific community decided to use the term “cultured meat” as opposed to “in vitro meat.”
In September of 2012, New Harvest put on the seminar “Tissue Engineered Nutrition” at the TERMIS (Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society) World Congress in Vienna, Austria.
Meanwhile, in 2009, our current CEO, Isha, was studying cell and molecular biology at the University of Alberta. In her last year, she took a graduate level class on meat science, a departure from most of her coursework. In this class, Isha came to realize that re-thinking animal agriculture would be a very impactful way to ignite change. Her Professor, Dr. Mirko Betti, had read about cultured meat in a book called Futurizzazione by Carlo Pelanda in the early 2000s and attended the TERMIS meeting in Vienna. He shared the idea of growing meat in cell cultures rather than in livestock with Isha and the rest of the class.
Because Isha came from a biology background rather than an agriculture background, she was well prepared to investigate cultured meat from a biology perspective. Isha wrote her term paper on cultured meat, drawing from advances in medical research and applying them to making food. Isha sent the paper to Jason, who connected her to a community of scientists who encouraged her to publish her work. The paper, “Possibilities for an in-Vitro meat production system” was published in Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies in 2010.
In 2012, Jason was searching for an Executive Director to take the reins at New Harvest full-time. Isha was hired and began her role at New Harvest on January 14, 2013. This era of New Harvest saw the organization start and incubate companies, fund groundbreaking research, and attract more talent and resources to this important emerging field. The team grew to include Erin Kim (a volunteer since 2014) in 2016; and Kate Krueger in 2017. Today, New Harvest's main focus is on its core activity of funding open academic research through its Fellowship Program.
Isha has been pioneering the field of cellular agriculture since 2009, when she began a deep-dive investigation into the technical challenges and opportunities involved in producing cultured meat. In 2010 Isha published "Possibilities for an in-vitro meat production system" in the food science journal Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies.
She quickly discovered that cellular agriculture research was not held back by a lack of interest or expertise, but instead by a lack of designated funding channels directed at this intersectional work. Thus began her quest to establish the field of animal products made without animals, one recognized by researchers, funding agencies, and investors.
A stint in Policy and Public Affairs at GlaxoSmithKline illuminated the cooperative relationship between non-profits, academia, and companies in translating beneficial science out of the lab and into society. Isha has used a model established in the advancement of medical research to accelerate cellular agriculture, by funding early stage, foundational research in academia in order for ready-to-market technologies to be developed for commercial use.
Isha became Executive Director of New Harvest in January 2013. She co-founded Muufri, making milk without cows, in April 2014 and Clara Foods, making eggs without chickens, in November 2014.
Isha has a BSc. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Alberta and a Masters in Biotechnology from the University of Toronto.
Isha enjoys rooftops, houseplants, long walks through the city, and the freedom of not owning a car.
Kate Krueger, PhD
Kate Krueger is Research Director at New Harvest. Before joining the New Harvest team in 2017, she worked at Perfect Day Foods, contributing to their foundational patent on novel milk proteins.
Kate holds a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from Yale University and an A.B. in Biochemistry from Mount Holyoke College. She has extensive research experience in biochemistry, structural biology, and cell biology. She is passionate about using technology for the betterment of society.
She has been interviewed by journals including Nature, the Anthropocene, and the New Yorker, and has shared her work through numerous lectures, podcasts, and articles.
Meera has been involved in cellular agriculture since 2015 when she was New Harvest's very first intern. She has a BA in Economics and Philosophy from Washington University in St. Louis.
Meera likes Taco Bell and being on wheels of any kind.
Lanto joined New Harvest in 2018 and brings international experience from his career as educational and cultural exchange program coordinator for Madagascar and Comoros targeting academics, scientists, government officials, religious leaders, and youth activists.
After graduating with a degree in Anglophone Studies from the University of Antananarivo, Lanto spent 27 years coordinating the United States Department of State's educational and cultural exchange programs in Madagascar including the Fulbright program. His tenure at United States Embassy equipped him with a thorough understanding of program management and administrative support operations, especially contract, grant, and database management as well as efficient collaboration between the requisite departments to host events attended by the U.S. ambassador, diplomatic community, and high-level government representatives.
Lanto is fluent in Malagasy, English and French. When not at work, he enjoys spending time with his three boys and playing soccer.
Board of Directors
Scott built his career by identifying new markets and shaping innovative products for them. In 1995, he identified search engines as a significant advertising medium and invented the first products to automate marketing across multiple search engines, ultimately creating the bid-for-placement business model. As an initial investor and Director at PayPal, he was a co-inventor of the 'email payments' product now widely used on eBay. In 2000, Scott saw opportunity in the rapid growth of email traffic, co-founding IronPort Systems and serving as CTO. Scott is now a successful angel investor with past or present investments in Zappos, Ekso Bionics, Practice Fusion, ClassPass, Bell Biosystems, Bridge International Academies, Moon Express, Postmates, Thumbtack, and Uber.
Karien is an advocate for openness and supporter of social entrepreneurs. She has played various roles within the Shuttleworth Foundation, facing new challenges and learning every step of the way. She now focuses on the Shuttleworth Fellowship Program - engaging with issues of openness and social change, identifying potential investments and working closely with Fellows towards realising their vision.
She is a native of the Eastern Cape, South Africa, and the smell of rain after a dry spell still makes her think of home. She believes elephants have noble hearts and is passionate about their protection and conservation. It is rare for a meme to pass her by, she always knows what's up in the collective mind of the Internet. Karien studied business and economics at the business schools of the University of Stellenbosch and University of Cape Town.
Caleb Harper is the Principal Investigator and Director of the Open Agriculture (OpenAg) Initiative at the MIT Media Lab. He leads a diverse group of engineers, architects and scientists in the exploration and development of the future food systems. Caleb’s research focuses in the areas of control environment design, actuated sensing, control automation and data-driven resource, energy and biologic optimization. His group is developing an open-source agricultural hardware, software and data common with the goal of creating a more agile, transparent and collaborative food system.
Caleb is a National Geographic Explorer and a member of the World Economic Forum (WEF) New Vision for Agriculture Transformation Leaders Network. His work has been featured by TIME, WIRED, The Economist, IEEE, World Urban Forum (WUF), USAID and TED. Prior to joining the Media Lab in 2011, Caleb worked professionally as an Architect designing and developing data centers, health care and semi-conductor fabrication facilities. Additionally, he has consulted with multiple international development agencies including USAID, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and the Delhi Development Authority on high-density urban development projects.