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Join host Paul Shapiro as he talks with some of the leading start-up entrepreneurs and titans of industry alike using their businesses to help solve the world’s most pressing problems.

Jan 15, 2024

Many times when we talk about technology that can improve animal welfare, we’re talking about innovations that either have displaced or could displace the use of animals. Think for example about cars replacing horse-power, kerosene replacing whale oil, and animal-free meats displacing factory farming of animals. But can technology also be used to make better the lives of animals who are still being used?

Long-time tech enthusiast and animal advocate Robert Yaman is betting on that idea, and has launched a new charity, Innovate Animal Ag, designed to help the animal-use industries implement such new technologies. In its first few months, the organization has already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and is now working to implement two technologies in particular which could reduce the suffering of vast numbers of chickens: in-ovo sexing of eggs in hatcheries and on-farm hatching of chickens used for meat.

You may know already that the egg industry has little use for male chicks, and this type of bird grows too slowly for the male chicks to be of interest to meat producers. As a result, billions of male chicks are killed on the first day of their lives at hatcheries around the world, often by grinding, gassing, crushing, or other gruesome methods. Innovate Animal Ag, however, is proposing that hatcheries determine the sex of the egg long before hatching so these unfortunate males are never birthed into such an unwelcoming world in the first place.

Led by Germany’s new legislation on the topic, already many egg hatcheries in Europe have implemented the technology, and Innovate Animal Ag believes that producers in the US will soon benefit from this European innovation as well.

This is a riveting conversation with an insightful thinker and do-er who’s devoted his life to using technology to advance animals’ interests. From starting his own cultivated meat company, to working at another cultivated meat company for years, to now launching his own nonprofit seeking to work with animal producers rather than just against them, Robert’s someone whose opinions I’m always interested in hearing and I think you will be too.

And as you’ll hear in this episode, he’s also a great musician!

Discussed in this episode

More about Robert Yaman

Robert Yaman, the Founder and Executive Director of Innovate Animal Ag, spent his entire career in Silicon Valley. He started as an engineer at Google, and later moved into food tech, most recently running operations at a startup developing cell-cultivated animal fat as a food ingredient. Through this work, he’s thought and written extensively on the lifecycle of new technologies as they come to market. In addition to being a self-proclaimed nerd about science, engineering, and manufacturing, he’s passionate about finding ways to turn conflict into collaboration through aligning incentives.