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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.

Apr 5, 2024

When the New York Times recently ran an opinion column declaring the infant fatality of the cultivated meat industry, Isha Datar, CEO of New Harvest, was quoted as saying of the sector, “this is a bubble that is going to pop.”

Given that New Harvest is intended to promote and advance the field, what did Isha mean by this? She expounded on that thought in a 2,000-word commentary asserting that while she disagrees with the columnist’s conclusion that cultivated meat can never become a viable reality, she believes that the sector has been plagued by “exaggerations, lies, and broken promises.”

In this episode, Isha and I talk about what she’s referring to, the difference she sees between cellular agriculture via precision fermentation (e.g., Perfect Day and EVERY) and cellular agriculture aimed at producing actual animal meat (e.g., Eat Just and Mosa Meat), whether cultivated meat is more like flying cars (a far future technology) or electric cars from 15 years ago (not yet ready, but realistically possible), what pathway forward she sees toward actually fulfilling the promise to end the factory farming of animals. 

Discussed in this episode

More about Isha Datar

Isha has been pioneering cellular agriculture since 2009, driven by a passion to see transformative technology create a better world. In 2010, Isha published "Possibilities for an in-vitro meat production system" in Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies; thus began her quest to establish the field of cell ag. 

Isha became Executive Director of New Harvest in 2013. She co-founded Muufri (now Perfect Day) and Clara Foods in 2014, and soon after passed her founding equity to New Harvest in full to establish the first endowment for cell ag research. In 2015 she named the field "cellular agriculture" - officially creating a category for agriculture products produced from cell cultures rather than whole plants or animals. She is a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow and also served as a Director’s Fellow at the MIT Media Lab. 

Isha has a BSc. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Alberta and a Masters in Biotechnology from the University of Toronto.