Cultured meat, more frequently known as "lab meat," is an upcoming culinary and potentially ecological innovation that will become a growing topic of excitement and controversy in the near future. Rumor Flies interviews Daan Luining of New Harvest in order to shed some light on what cultured meat is, what it isn't, and how it may play an important role in our future.
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Ryan: All right. Daan Luining. Thank you for being here today. You represent New Harvest Foods.
Daan Luining: Yes. Thank you for having me. Glad to be on the show.
Ryan: All right. New Harvest is a non-profit organization that specializes in cellular agriculture, correct?
Daan Luining: Yes. That is correct.
Ryan: Mainly in meats, right?
Daan Luining: Well, now we're more focused on meats since the other two fields [inaudible 00:02:23], which is the culture of milk and eggs are taking off at the moment.
Daan Luining: At the moment we are quite focused on the meat part, yes.
Ryan: Okay. Also, Daan is the research strategist. I think that's the title you currently are holding for New Harvest on the website?
Daan Luining: Yes.
Ryan: Okay. These other companies that you're taking care of, I know that you have more of a background in meats, but for milk and eggs do you have any close connection with the other two companies that are involved with this? I believe the milk is Perfect Day and eggs is Clara?
Daan Luining: That's correct. We actually do have a very close connection because Isha Datar, our CEO, she actually funded both of the companies when New Harvest first was just a very small organization with very few resources, and at that moment we weren't very able to do the open source research that we're pursuing right now. She got money from VC companies who started off these companies. The technological hurdle was much less. That's why it was much easier to do. She always tells me that if she would have had money right now she would have done it differently. She'd have gotten a more open source model so there would be like 10 Clara Foods or 10 Perfect Days instead of just one.
Ryan: Oh, got you. Okay. Before we get into any of the specifics I just want to ask you what is New Harvest Foods and what is their mission statement specifically?
Daan Luining: Well, New Harvest is a non-profit organization, and we are accelerating a new field in science called cellular agriculture. We do this by giving out grants or helping people to get involved in this new field, trying to get more people or more scientists working on this so we can be a more established field of science to replace animal products with technology that is now still being applied for pharmaceutical or medical purposes but can be repurposed for food applications.
Ryan: Okay. Awesome. In general there's a few other smaller companies that we've seen around that have been trying to create kind of the same deal but you guys are specifically on the research side of things, not for marketing this type of meat. It's specifically just to further the actual advancements in this field.
Daan Luining: Yes. That's correct. Well, there are of course two different things because the cultured milk and eggs are already an established company. For the meat, we think the technological hurdle to actually all the problems that are currently lying in the field are too big to do by one company themselves [inaudible 00:04:53] spread the tasks on this and try to how we can get such many different angles and many different people participating.
Ryan: Okay. Daan, you're background is mainly in cellular agriculture and the vascularization of meat, is that correct?
Daan Luining: I've a background in a wide variety of molecular biology but mostly molecular biology and cell biology basically is what my background is in. I have some experience in doing the cultured meats and doing tissue engineering. Yes, that's correct.
Ryan: All right, I guess we can get into a little bit of the meats now that we have our actual primer behind New Harvest and yourself. Josh, do you want to start of with some of the questions about cell-cultured meat?
Josh: Yeah, I think that actually makes for a nice segway into this. Just so people understand what actually is a cultured meat?
Daan Luining: Cultured meat is the creation of meat, which is muscle tissue, so all almost all the meats that we eat are made from muscle tissue from different types of animals. We wanted to produce these muscle tissues. Instead of using entire animal we wanted to use the fundamental blocks of these tissues which are the cells, the muscle cells.
We extract these cells from the animals, and we grow them in what we call ex-vivo so from beyond the animal. We grow them in a lab condition. At the moment it's a lab condition, but of course we hope in the future this will be in a more factory condition. Due to the nature of the technology this is being done in labs at the moment. Then we try to expand these cells and to multiply them so many times over that they become a large piece of tissue which we can then eat without actually harming or killing the animal.
Josh: One of the things that I really liked that when we talked before, before we decided to do this, one of the things that I really liked that you said was that you guys aren't looking to replace the meat industry. You guys are looking to maybe in conjunction with them and help ...
Ryan: [inaudible 00:06:54].
Josh: Yeah, exactly.
Daan Luining: Yeah, that's exactly correct, because saying that this technology will replace factory farming I think is a bit arrogant and over simplifying the entire problem, because where with so many people at the moment that just doing this won't solve the entire issue. We probably will need insects as well or eat less meat, or eat meat replacements. It will even do this so we can mitigate everything instead of doing the one simple [inaudible 00:07:26]. It's really too much of a problem for one technology.
Ryan: As you talk a bit about creating these, what are some of the current processes being used to create cultured meats and are there any noticeable differences between New Harvest approach and other companies' techniques?
Daan Luining: First of all, what the companies are doing I can't tell because it's a company and companies tend not share their R&D with us so I actually really don't know what they're doing. That's a weird thing, right? We might be doing some redundancy, like a lot of redundancy, but we wouldn't know because they won't tell us what they're doing.
The first approach was actually when I worked in Maastricht at, Dr. Mark Post, the professor who made the first cultured hamburger, I worked in his lab. It was a rather conventional normal setting in culture flask and then our seeding the cells to create small pieces of tissue, and then they are stacked together to make this hamburger. That technology was more proof of concept to show the world that this is actually a viable technology that could be done with some improvements, of course.
After that I left for New York to work at New Harvest so I have no idea what the current status of their research is at the moment. My project was mostly doing micro-carriers. Micro-carriers are these small plastic balls which you can attach cells to, and on these balls can be rotated in a [bio-reactor 00:08:47] which will reduce the volume that was needed to grow these cells in. It was actually pretty neat. There were some problems with it that still need to be optimized. I only got so far but it sounds pretty promising.
The method we are currently developing at New Harvest is ... It's still very nascent. It's still in the beginnings. There's only a couple people in the world working on it. There are, I think, five researchers in the world working on this. One of them is Marie Gibbons. She's a student at North Carolina State University, and she's student of Dr. Paul Mozdziak, and this professor is a specialist in culturing turkey cells and avian cell lines.
What we're planning to do is make a cell line that ... a cell line is a specific type of cell. It can grow almost indefinite ... and get these cells to grow in a suspension. Normal cells would have need for a surface to grow without dying, and we want these cells to detach from that surface to grow in suspension so we can actually grow them more like a yeast cell instead of a mammalian cell, which is pretty hard.
Ryan: I have a quick little followup question about that. You're saying some of the companies are reticent, understandably so, to share what they're doing and some of their techniques. How much do you all do on your end to share with other companies and other guys researching this as well? It sounds like there's dialog between researchers.
Daan Luining: Yes, of course, yeah. I made a small online forum for the researchers in the New Harvest community to exchange some ideas or some papers that might be interesting. We're trying to collaborate as much as possible. Also one of the contracts, what's in the contracts, when you sign up if you're a New Harvest Fellow you need to collaborate with other New Harvest Fellows when you find something interesting for them to share.
For example, if the avian cell line would eventually be established they have to be shared among New Harvest Fellows to help them collaborate to gain more knowledge about it. We try to collaborate as much as possible, because we truly believe that only by really collaborating and each step of the process that we can make is a reality because [inaudible 00:11:02] is too hard for one group to do it by themselves.
Ryan: Given my current understanding of the process we are likely to see cultured meat burgers before steaks, like actual ground burgers since there's been an issue with, I guess, making one solid slice of meat. Is that correct at this moment?
Daan Luining: Yes, that's correct.
Ryan: Is there an effort to create the unground steaks, and does that include a matching protein to fat ratio with traditional beef that you can tailor or alter, or what has been the biggest leap to actually connecting that tissue as opposed to making the patty?
Daan Luining: There actually hasn't been any leap at all. We're still ... if you look at process there is a multi-stage process where you first need to grow a certain amount of cells that are required to making an entire piece of tissue. First you need to grow the cells. Then you need to find a way to feed those cells a nutrient broth that is sustainable so that it does not come from animals and does not do mono-culture. Then you need to feed the cells. This is also one of our biggest research [inaudible 00:12:05].
Then third part is actually putting these cells in a suitable environment where they can form tissue, and then afterwards then you make the large pieces of 3D cultured tissue. We're still at phase one. We're still trying to figure out how we can grow the cells in enough quantities that we can make tissue. We're not even close at making a steak because all those steps will need to be overcome before we can actually focus on how to make large pieces of 3D tissue.
Ryan: Okay, so you don't want to jump too far ahead, right?
Daan Luining: Right, that's it. It wouldn't be useful to actually now start making large pieces of tissue because we wouldn't have enough cells to supply that construct with enough cells to create the tissues.
Ryan: Yeah, what kind of constituents would you need to use for this type or production? For feeding a cow you need the grains, you need the water, you need all the different things you would need in order to raise a cow. For the cell-cultured meat what type of things would you need in order to grow this meat? I don't want to get too far into the process but just in terms of resources in order to get from point A to point B to make this cell-cultured meat is it much different? Is it cheaper? Would it be cheaper ideally than raising a full cow?
Daan Luining: That's of course is the ideology, right, that we can do this without the resources that are needed. At the moment we are still using mostly animal-based products, but the most fundamental pieces of all will be carbohydrates, nucleotides, fatty acids, all the basic building blocks of cells which actually your body breaks down for you and then absorbs into your blood. It's the same thing only we cut out the entire digestion system and just supply the nutrients that the cells can use it directly.
Josh: One hypothetical advantage to cellular agriculture is the concept of designer meat. Will we see a meat product with a controlled fat to protein ratio or maybe a transfat to saturated fat ration that is actually a healthier alternative to traditional meat?
Daan Luining: You could only measure those things by feeding the cells these better nutrients then eventually you'd have a product which you could can compare, but since we don't have any products so far we can't compare anything. If you could put two burgers next to one another and say, well, this is cultured burger and we put in this nutrient into the broth so that cells take up this type of nutrients and this is the normal one, then you can compare. Before that it's very hard to say this will eventually be reality. Everybody is talking about this is better, this is healthier, this is cleaner, but nobody actually knows this is going to happen at the end so it's all speculation at the moment.
Ryan: One last question before we move on to the other products, you said that there was a lab working on cell-cultured turkey meat, correct?
Daan Luining: Yes, that's correct.
Ryan: Aside from turkey has there been any attempt for cell-cultured chicken or even fish? I know we have an overfishing issue across the world. I was just wondering are there other avian or [pest-contarian 00:15:13] type of ventures being held with cell-cultured meat?
Daan Luining: I don't know if you've noticed but New Harvest is opening a lab in Europe which I'll be running. That's why I'm back here in the Netherlands. One of my main focuses will be establishing cell lines from all species that we eat so all including lobster, salmon, tuna, cow, chicken, pork, to start off. Then, of course, we can always avert from there. I think those are the animals I will start off with so we will create cell lines for these animals so people can just order them like they would order human stem cells in fact from a catalog.
For example, if you're a researcher and you're doing research on liver cancer, you can just order a cell line to test your compounds and do some research on them just from a catalog. We want to lower the barrier of people participating in this field by supplying the similar tools for them to research this. Yes, definitely tuna, salmon are on the menu for us to look into.
Ryan: All right, so I guess moving on to the next product, milk.
Josh: As far as you guys dealing with cultured milk, what exactly is the fermentation process for creating cultured milk?
Daan Luining: It's exactly the same as culturing beer. You supply a source of carbon sugars, carbohydrates, and you modify the yeast that it has the casein gene inserted in its genome and also the promoters for it to actually make this product. You enter the genome of a yeast cell which has a casein gene in it, and then you give the yeast sugars to eat and then you push the yeast into actually instead of producing ethanol they will produce milk, or casein in this case.
Ryan: Is this type of ... I'm guessing this is cellular recombination, well, DNA recombinance for the yeast, yes?
Daan Luining: Exactly. That's correct.
Ryan: Is this is a newer type of biotechnology, or has this casein producing yeast been around for a while?
Daan Luining: The technology isn't very new, but doing casein in yeast is very new. That hasn't been done before. We use yeast for a wide variety of different things. Never has it been really done for doing milk so that's why it's so unique in this case.
Greg: For those of us in the peanut gallery, what the hell is DNA recombinance?
Ryan: DNA recombinant is essentially a genetically modified organism that has had a part of it's gene spliced in that can help it to create either insulin or his case, casein. It can be used for E. coli fungus.
Daan Luining: Maybe I can get into that because I'm explaining a bit more easily. If you imagine a cow produces milk so it has to have the blueprints for creating milk inside of its genome. What you do is you take out the blueprint from the cow and just the casein, just the milk blueprint. What you can do is you can transport the blueprint into yeast cells and tell yeast cells, "Well, I want you to make this blueprint instead of your own blueprint." Then they will start producing those milk proteins which you can harvest.
Greg: It's just giving the DNA different marching orders, basically.
Daan Luining: You're swapping DNA from different species.
Greg: Can this cultured milk be used in the same manner as how we use cow's milk already? Can it be used to make yogurt, cheese, be used in cooking? Are there any limitations on uses beyond just drinking it straight?
Daan Luining: No, actually, no, because you're using the exact same protein that is in milk. That is the good thing. The properties of what you get from doing it this way are supposed to be exactly the same as you would get it from a cow because you're using the same type of proteins. Those proteins will behave the same way. A microorganism like lactobacillus, like to make yogurt, they will use the same types of proteins and stuff that's inside of milk. It shouldn't behave any differently from conventional milk.
Josh: What you're basically saying is that you're going to get the same end result. You just have a different path you're taking to get there. Correct?
Daan Luining: That's correct.
Ryan: Is there any lactose production in this milk or is it lactose free?
Daan Luining: It should be lactose free because you're not taking the lactose blueprint from the cow to put it inside of the yeast. The yeast are lacking it. They only have the casein. Milk is basically made out of five different proteins which mostly are 805 are casein or casein varieties, and if you just curate those and no lactose in there the milk won't contain any lactose.
Ryan: That's what you would consider to be the essence of milk, what makes it is those casein proteins, well, those five proteins and then the fats involved. I'm down for that. I'm lactose-intolerant so I'm totally okay with there being none there.
Daan Luining: Dutch folk don't really mind because I think our population is 99% lactose tolerant. It's amazing. The northern Scandinavian people are also very lactose tolerant because we have just so little sun up here.
Ryan: That's fascinating to me.
Daan Luining: The rest of the world we get it that you are more inclined to get some lactose-free milk. We get it.
Josh: I think this makes for a nice segway into talking about eggs. I'm assuming that as far as the process for the cultured milk versus the cultured eggs, I'm assuming that's also very similar as well as it was with the milk and the meat, correct?
Daan Luining: It's exactly the same, actually. The thing about eggs is that eggs is multi-components so you have egg white and yellow so they're just producing the egg whites. In this case the products of egg white product will mostly be used for an additive to make, for example, meringues or other stuff which you usually use egg whites in. It's very, very difficult to create the egg yolk which I understand from it.
Ryan: I can imagine. That's the essence of chicken right there so protein is pretty much the feeding. How far along is this? It seems like it would be ... This is just from like a dumb standpoint thinking that just making the egg whites would be the easiest hurdle to overcome. How close to production are these types of egg whites and would they be used for cooking?
Daan Luining: They won't be used for making like a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, because you don't have the egg yolk. They probably won't taste a nice, although some people just enjoy the egg white, of course. I've actually no idea at the moment what their current product process is and how far along are they. Since Perfect Day has been launching their products I've been more involved in how far they are, but with Clara Foods I haven't heard from in a while so I will need to check up on them. [inaudible 00:22:23]
Ryan: Just letting them do their thing [inaudible 00:22:28].
Daan Luining: Yeah, I'm also quite ... basically since I'm not in the States any more focusing on starting up the lab here. It's been quite busy for me as well.
Ryan: Okay. I guess since we're at that point we can go over to just some general industry questions. These are some of the ones that are little bit more interesting on my end of it, and Greg's end, obviously, with ... Go ahead, Greg.
Greg: Yeah, sure. When we started, when Ryan approached you and kicked off this idea, a lot of our initial stuff was a lot of thinking about how's the market going to react, how are people going to react? Just all this fascinating questions I'm sure you're gripping with constantly as you work on this. You're like, "How are people going to receive it?"
Whenever cows and even just plant life and every thing growing in general and farming comes up, the environment comes up. It's a constant battle with that. What would be the ecological impact? I know you said earlier there's a few questions and speculations going on, but as far as you know what's the ecological impact of these cultural products, and especially when you scale up start hitting a mass market? What do you anticipate?
Daan Luining: That's an awful hard question because you're already taking on premises that I don't know how to work because all this speculation has been done in best case scenarios if this thing would work out, and if the cells work like this. Who knows? I don't know. Maybe it will be amazing. Maybe people enjoy it so much because we can add some products so well that people will enjoy it more than the conventional meat so the need for normal meat will disappear. Maybe people will just use it as a cheap substitute.
I wouldn't be able to answer that honestly. If you would like me to speculate on that, yeah, I'd be more than happy to, but as a scientist I try to steer away from that. Until we have a product coming out of a factory which actually competes with conventional meats nobody can tell.
Greg: Okay. I guess I'll throw another hypothetical at you over here, marketing is not the section that you're too worried about right now considering there's nothing to market at the moment, but really what do you think would convince the common consumer to make the switch or even consider these types of meats? Like you said, this is more of a supplement type of thing.
Would there be even something that they would even know that it's there just as you don't know if you have mechanically separated meat or anything like that most of the time when you go to McDonald's or something like that. In this situation what do you think would be the big push that would convince people that this is something that we might need to supplement or to offset a little bit of the waste issue that we're having, or just the environmental impact?
Daan Luining: Right. At the moment we are just so spoiled with the option that we're having so, for example, there will be another great animal pandemic which [inaudible 00:25:21] more each year we put more animals in small cages. Once there's a giant xeno-transmittable pandemic going on in cattle herding we won't have a choice. It's not because we can say, well, we have this wide variety, we have cheap meat, and we can also have, what is it, organic meat, and all the other stuff that we can still say, well, we don't want this or maybe we're scared of this.
Maybe there will come a point that people will say, "Well, if you're not going to research it's a possibility people will starve." I believe eventually people will come to a point or a realization that this isn't necessarily a thing that we need to investigate before it's too late. That's just one of a very grim one, but my personal favorite is because I'm a space nerd, a huge space nerd, for example, if you want to go to another planet you're not going to strap a cow on a rocket and shoot it into out space. That will be nuts.
Ryan: [inaudible 00:26:23]
Daan Luining: Yeah, right, well, that might be very cool to look at but not very convenient. You might want to send a small batch of cells that can grow indefinitely and maybe grow in combination with algae that's cultivated with carbon dioxide and the sun. You can shoot that into outer space and grow your own meat on a different planet easily, but that's, of course, very futuristic. That might that be an enthusiastic point of view for people to pursue.
Ryan: That's a pretty cool thought for the very imaginative thinkers to just latch onto that. I like that one a whole lot, because I've had astronaut ice cream, and we need to very much improve on our space food.
Daan Luining: Space burgers or something like that. Yeah, that would be awesome.
Greg: Cosmic burgers.
Ryan: Burgers. That just sounds gross. Josh, you got another one?
Daan Luining: There are a lot of incentive for people actually and, of course, the biggest one is animal welfare and, of course, environmental, the sort of things we are pressing as an organization to be say, "Well, people we need to look into this because the way we are treating our animals is all falling away that animals, the influence of animals is on the current environment is just the worst. Eventually now [inaudible 00:27:41] electric car things, right, so everybody's going to drive electric cars because that's hip and that's the thing. We also try to get in touch with [inaudible 00:27:46] this is so more environmentally friendly than doing the conventional thing so you might want to think about this.
Josh: One of the things that I really like about as far as you guys at New Harvest is that instead of saying, "There's all these terrible things that are going on with these animals. Don't eat meat. Don't each chicken." You guys are saying, "No, we need to have these things, but we're trying to provide a better alternative that's much more friendly, it's much more safe. We can have a lot more predictability as far as the product that we're working towards of what it can provide for you, and it can be a much healthier alternative to a lot of the abuse that these animals take."
Daan Luining: Yeah, well, that's what we believe, of course. That's what we believe our research should be focused on so we're trying our best to make sure that happens so we devise our research and we devise our progress based on the those premises. That's the thing. That's really what we believe in. I'm a meat eater myself so I can't rally say that I'm in it for the animal welfare prospect of it because I still eat meat, but I still do care.
If I had an option to eat meat that comes from a thing that doesn't cause animals harm then of course I would eat it. Why wouldn't I? I'm not a horrible person. Why wouldn't I. If it tastes the same and it costs the same ,of course if that's the case why wouldn't I choose for the product that doesn't cause any harm? That would be weird if you're still like, "No, I really fundamentally don't care what happens to animals."
Ryan: I like it when my cow screams first. That makes the meat that much tastier.
Daan Luining: That's weird, right? I think there are very few people who truly are so freaked out by this thing that they say, "Well, I would prefer the suffering meat over the other meat."
Ryan: I've talked with people that work at a lab that say that exact type of a thing. Not in that phrasing, but they just say, "Oh, that sounds gross, lab meat or anything like that." I've seen pushes for clean meat as a new term for it. I don't know who coined that but I saw that in an article recently.
I guess with some of the other questions to round this out, two particular things. Are you worried about anything like patent trolling like, for instance, once a process would be used for this are you scared of another company that may have interests in making sure that this isn't as [inaudible 00:30:10] like the state of Wisconsin. They rely heavily on cows for almost a ton of different things, milk and beef. Are you worried about this getting into a legal bind where these things are going to regulated so heavily to the point that they can't even be used viably?
For instance, I saw an article on cell-cultured meat of whether the USDA or the FDA would be regulating them. What type of hurdles are you looking for that would possibly hinder this type of research or progress?
Daan Luining: Hinder to research I don't see anything going on in that because we're not using which the taboo nowadays is using embryonic humans cells to alter them genetically so we're using animals which we have been doing for a very, very long time. On the side of the research there's not much problems, but to commercialization I think yeah, there will be a ...
It makes sense if such a new type of food comes to the market you want to investigate this. You want to regulate this. Of course there will be some hurdles and some testing, and we'll take some time before this thing comes to market, but it's only natural to do that, because it would be weird if we rush this thing. I think it's [inaudible 00:31:20] we should do rigorous testing before we can actually say this thing is clean or whatever they call it, or safe, at least safe.
Ryan: Yeah. I see it being less disease or so. Any reason why it wouldn't be safe?
Daan Luining: No, that's the thing. I don't see any reason because I know the process in and out at least with the ones that we're trying to do, and there is not so much danger in there. Actually it should be safer and it should be easier to do then actually growing an animal, because an animal you can't monitor an animal throughout its life all day, but we can monitor our cells. We have been doing that for the pharmaceutical industry so we can use technologies that are available in that field to really go down to the very smallest level of regulation of these cells and do QC on those cells, quality control on these cells and on these tissues, before we can put them inside of the market.
With animals that really doesn't happen at all. Well, at least a bit but not as vigorous as you could do with a cultured meat suspension or cultured meat product. We can put standards on these products that are as high as pharmaceuticals. Those things are already in place so there's already diagnostics in place to do these types of quality control for these type of products.
Josh: Okay, awesome.
Ryan: If someone wanted to basically get involved in this industry and wanted to get involved in creating foods what fields would they need to study?
Daan Luining: There are many different fields that we will need in the future, but at the moment I think the most useful would be cell molecular biology [inaudible 00:33:06] work and how we can modify cells in such a way that they will grow to the masses that we want them to grow, and also how we can control their growth and differentiation. That's basically what we're working on right now, but this is just one small part of the entire process. We will need chemical engineers. We would need scale engineers. We would need so many different people. Engineering will be massive.
I can't even imagine how much new jobs or new types of education will be needed for making this a reality. A basic understanding or biology and cell biology is definitely a good thing to have if you want to get into this field because most of it is based in the molecular sciences. That's why we have such trouble with getting funding for this field. We're in-between two fields. We're actually a food science but we're using technologies that are based in the molecular sciences.
The people that are doing food science or at least the laboratories that are doing food science are moving up very quick to do a mammalian cell culture. We need to find a way to educate these people or figure out how to find a way to get these people knowledgeable enough to do this type of research.
Ryan: Okay. Do you see any future programs being created in this that are more specific towards culture tissues as opposed to just cellular biology, like actual practical application programs?
Greg: Like a focus.
Daan Luining: Yeah, yeah, we're already trying to develop cellular agriculture. I think we are talking to MIT to do an online course but it's still very nascent. We're still starting up with that, but really getting into the, like you say, the things that people need to know to get into this field. It will take time but I think a course in this will actually be very beneficial because we need to have more experts in this. The way to create more experts is to provide education, provide new opportunities for them to get a career in this so that gives rise to experts.
Ryan: Okay, awesome. Daan, I think that's about all we have for right now, but thank you very ...
Greg: I would like to ask one question if that's possible [inaudible 00:35:17].
Ryan: Okay. Greg's got another question. Never mind.
Greg: We kind of kicked it around yesterday, and we touched a little bit, but one of my knee ... just the moment we started talking about this one of my knee-jerk questions was right now these things rise and fall but you have all these questions of is this non-GMO? Is this organic? Is this natural? All these buzz terms, some of which aren't even technical, but it becomes an entire marketing angle.
When you look at a food like this and the first question people ... I imagine the first [inaudible 00:35:44] it isn't natural. They're going to say that right out the gate, but you're working with organisms so it's like this really gets into this very fundamental question of what is organic? Is it just the word? Does it mean there's other words tied to it and other meanings? I guess if someone came up to you and said, "Is this organic? Is this natural? Whether you want to interpret it legally or in just the public sense how would describe these products?
Daan Luining: It's completely natural. It's a muscle cell so what's not natural about a muscle cell? If you find that unnatural, yeah, then it's probably is very unnatural, but as long as you're okay with cows having muscles this shouldn't be very unnatural. We're talking the way that normal cells talk to each other. We're talking to the cells to do stuff. Everything that we're doing is natural so it's weird to actually say stuff is unnatural because everything that we use in our surroundings comes from nature. Basically there's nothing unnatural but, of course, we're getting more into this philosophical debate. I would say these things are natural because it's more natural than the way that we are treating animals right now.
Greg: All right.
Josh: I got one last thing I guess to wrap all this up. One of the things that I wanted to touch on the last bit before we let you go was one of the aspects about this cellular agriculture in particular involving the tissue was one of the things that I found so fascinating when I was doing research on New Harvest, and I don't have the science background like Ryan does so I have to sit there and I have to teach myself everything in a ... I learned a lot, I will say that. I'm a smarter man than I was yesterday now.
One of the things I found so fascinating was that you guys as far as the tissue engineering goes, I like the fact that you guys approach it from the sense that not only can this be something used for a food source, but this could also help people as far as burn victims replacing with skin grafts and stuff like that, or harvesting a new organ for someone that needs some kind of transplant. I really like that approach from it because it's very applicable, and it covers a lot of bases and a lot of avenues, and it does a lot of good I think that could help the world.
Daan Luining: I totally agree with you. At the moment we are translating medical research in the field of doing tissue engineering into this field, but hopefully if we will be able to get more funding in the future, which is hard at the moment to get funding for a new type of science, we maybe can lead the way for the medical field to say, well, develop these technologies and they could be used for medical application so we can actually give something back to them, or maybe something they hadn't thought about. This is what makes it so hard since we are so intent.
I really am curious why it should be so hard to get a new science which looks very promising off the ground and which could actually be beneficial also to other fields of science. I totally agree with you that the idea of actually translating these back into the medical field is very, very tempting and very promising, but it's hard to construct a manner to get funding from that field.
Josh: I totally understand.
Ryan: Dan, thank you very much for coming on with us and answering a few questions. You have been tolerating us very well.
Daan Luining: Yeah, I'm glad to be on [inaudible 00:39:14]. Thank you a lot for having me. It's been wonderful. Thank you for all of your interesting questions.
Ryan: If anybody wants to learn a little bit more about New Harvest or any other companies associated with it what can they do to check it out, or how can they reach you all in any way?
Daan Luining: You can definitely check out the website at new-harvest.com, or was it org?
Ryan: Org. It's org.
Daan Luining: Dot org. Sorry about that. I don't participate in the website as much. Yeah, it's new-harvest.org and you can always email me at [inaudible 00:39:48] new-harvest.org, and I will [inaudible 00:39:51] so because that's ... I like to talk to people who are interested in this field, and I'm never too shy to tell you anything about what we do and how we know how to get involved. If you want to get involved, you're a student or anyone to donate, you can always contact us and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Ryan: All right. Thank you very much, and it's been nice having you.
Josh: I will say that we'll have all the links to all that in the show notes for people so that way they can have a direct line to you or to the website so if they want to check that out we'll have that available to them and it's going to be accessible.
Daan Luining: That's great. Thanks a lot for having me. It was a pleasure talking to you guys.
Josh: Thanks, Daan.
Ryan: Take care.