|Headquarters||New York, New York|
New Harvest is a donor-funded research institute dedicated to the field of cellular agriculture, focusing on advances in scientific research efforts surrounding cultured animal products. It highlights growing environmental and ethical concerns associated with industrial livestock production.
The 501(c)(3) non-profit was established in 2004. Today, New Harvest funds university-based research to develop breakthroughs in cellular agriculture, such as new culture media formulations, bioreactors, and methods of tissue assembly for the production of cultured meat.
New Harvest organizes a yearly conference – among the first professional conferences related to cellular agriculture – where it connects scientists, entrepreneurs, and other interested parties in the biosciences and food security fields.
In 2004, New Harvest was founded by Jason Matheny to fund academic research into the use of cell cultures, instead of live animals, to grow meat. Matheny became interested in cultured meat after researching infectious diseases in India for a master's degree in public health. In the course of his research, he toured a poultry farm outside Delhi where he saw "tens of thousands of chickens in a metal warehouse, doped with drugs, living in their own manure and being bred for production traits that caused them to be immune-compromised." He said the experience made him recognize the need for a new way to meet a global demand for meat that is "exponentially growing" in even a traditionally vegetarian country like India.
When Matheny 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—a tissue engineer, cell biologist and animal scientist—to consider the viability of producing cultured meat on a large scale. In 2005, their research was published in the journal Tissue Engineering which generated considerable public and scientific interest in New Harvest.
When a new Executive Director, Isha Datar, was appointed in 2013, New Harvest's focus grew to include other animal commodities like milk and eggs, that could be produced by biotechnology rather than livestock. Since 2014, New Harvest has helped found two start-up companies, Perfect Day and Clara Foods.
Isha Datar, Perumal Gandhi and Ryan Pandya (two New Harvest volunteers) founded Muufri in 2014 to produce an animal-free cow's milk via biotechnology. The start-up got seed funding from a synthetic biology accelerator program in Cork, Ireland. They are currently trying to modify yeast to synthesize casein and whey, the two key proteins in milk. Six months into research, Muufri received a $2M investment from Li-Ka-Shing's VC – Horizons Ventures. Muufri has since re-branded to Perfect Day and have raised ~$25mn in VC funding in February 2018.
Isha Datar, David Anchel, and Arturo Elizondo founded Clara Foods in February 2015 to develop a chickenless egg white. The company participated in the Indie.Bio accelerator program in San Francisco, California. Clara Foods is working to produce an egg white that is cholesterol-free and salmonella-free, while using lower land and water inputs and available at a reduced cost.
Datar holds a BSc. in Cell & Molecular Biology from the University of Alberta, where she contributed to Canada's first cultured meat laboratory, and an M.Biotech from the University of Toronto. Datar said she was inspired by a meat science course to explore the environmental consequences of livestock production. In 2010, she coauthored a publication for Possibilities of an In Vitro Meat Production System, which applied tissue engineering technology to the cultured meat application. She spoke at 2012 TEDxToronto about cultured meat and was soon after appointed as the head of New Harvest. She is also a one-third founder of the start-up company Perfect Day, which is producing an animal-free cow's milk.
Board of Directors
Animal Charity Evaluators review
Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) named New Harvest as one of its Standout Charities in its 2015 and 2016 annual charity recommendations. ACE designates as Standout Charities those organizations which they do not feel are as strong as their Top Charities, but which excel in at least one way and are exceptionally strong compared to animal charities in general.
ACE cites New Harvest's strengths as being one of the few organizations to promote cellular agriculture, which could drastically reduce animal suffering by reducing or replacing animal agriculture. Their weaknesses, according to ACE, include their limited track record and concerns over the realism of their plans for growth.
- Good Food Institute
- Cellular agriculture
- Timeline of cellular agriculture
- Timeline of animal welfare and rights
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