A Post-Animal Bioeconomy: Environmental Law Institute and New Harvest to Explore Public Reactions to Cellular Agriculture

November 2016

(Washington, DC; New York, NY) –  The Environmental Law institute (ELI) and New Harvest announced today the launch of a new project to explore public perceptions and attitudes towards the production and consumption of synthetically engineered food. The project, funded by the Lounsbery Foundation, is designed to enable more strategic investments in cellular agriculture research to develop an alternative food supply through proactive stakeholder engagement and a better understanding of consumer preferences and public perceptions of potential future commercial products.

The impacts of our existing food production system are well documented--more than 56 billion land animals were raised and slaughtered for food and almost 30 percent of humanity’s water is used for food production. Existing livestock practices also have considerable public heath impacts, contributing to antibiotic resistance, viral outbreaks, and regular cases of bacterial food contamination. Founded in 2004, New Harvest supports critical, pre-competitive research needed to move towards successful, large-scale cellular agriculture that is crucial to creating food sources such as meat, milk and eggs without livestock.   

David Rejeski, who directs ELI’s project on Technology, Innovation and the Environment, noted that, “Given escalating global demands for protein, we need to develop and apply disruptive technologies to food production in the future. Given the complex social and cultural forces that shape food consumption, understanding public perceptions will be critical to shaping research investments and commercialization strategies.”

Isha Datar, the CEO of New Harvest, said, “As the non-profit scientific research institute funding cellular agriculture research, it is important to see what markets exist or may emerge for the early adoption of cell cultured food products. There are many complex behaviors and decisions that go into food consumption and purchasing decisions, and in depth focus group work will reveal some of the complexities that lay ahead for the products of cellular agriculture.”

The project will conduct a number of focus groups with Hart Research over the next few months. Results should be available in early 2017. People who would like further information on the project are encouraged to contact Dave Rejeski (Rejeski@eli.org) or Isha Datar (isha@new-harvest.org).

The Environmental Law Institute makes law work for people, places, and the planet. With its non-partisan, independent approach, ELI promotes solutions to tough environmental problems. The Institute’s unparalleled research and highly respected publications inform the public debate and build the institutions needed to advance sustainable development.

New Harvest’s 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 we can build a post-animal bioeconomy, where we harvest animal products from cell cultures, not animals, to feed a growing global population sustainably and affordably.