Isha Datar during her presentation in Dubai on Monday Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Now, you can have eggs without hens and milk without cows.

Sounds like a tall claim, or a Frankentein deal?

Not really, thanks to a new branch of agriculture, called "cellular agriculture" — or the production of agricultural products from cell culture.

it presents a significant potential to mitigate climate impact caused by animal agriculture, an expert told a Dubai conference on Monday.

Isha Datar, Executive Director of New Harvest, a non-profit research institute building and establishing the field of cellular agriculture, spoke before the World Government Summit 2017 in Dubai on Monday.

Datar added: “14. 5 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gases come from animal agriculture. Livestock farming produces 7.1 billion gigaton of carbon dioxide each year - comprising 14.5% of such greenhouse gases. More significantly, the enteric methane from ruminant animals has 34 times the potential of CO2 to expedite global warming over a period of 100 years.”

Cellular culture

Datar, a pioneer in the field of cellular culture, was addressing the audience in a session titled ‘Bio-engineering: Eggs without Hens’ on Day Two of the World Government Summit (WGS) 2017.

Pointing out that animal agriculture currently requires a third of the ice-free land on earth, Datar spoke about the potential benefits of cellular farming, both in terms of its environmental sustainability as well as physical and economic viability in the long term. “Not only does animal agriculture impact the environment, there is also the effect of environmental changes on livestock,” she elaborated.

“Climatic conditions affect the productivity, fertility and health of animals, and extreme weather event like storms result in the animals being destroyed in large numbers. We have also reached physiological limits when it comes to growing whole animals, and the best way forward is food production from cell cultures rather than plants or animals,” added Datar.

Datar and her team are currently carrying out cutting-edge research in the field of cellular agriculture, applying methods of tissue engineering to food production to generate meat and dairy products that are molecularly identical to those made conventionally.

“Brewing milk from yeast, for instance, will produce 84 percent less greenhouse gases than producing milk from cows,” she added.

The research, Datar agrees, is still speculative, and as it stands today, will take decades to complete. “With the support of world governments, however, we can complete it within 10 years.”

The World Government Summit (WGS) 2017 has drawn the participation of more than 4,000 personalities from 139 countries around the world.

This reflects the leading stature of WGS on regional and international levels and the high interest from governments, global organizations, private and public sector entities, decision makers, entrepreneurs, academics and university students as well as scientists and innovators.

WGS 2017 features 150 speakers across 114 sessions that highlight the world’s most pressing challenges and showcase best practices and cutting-edge solutions to deal with them.



Cellular agriculture is the production of agriculturalproducts from cell cultures. There are two kinds of agricultural products: acellular products and cellular products.

Acellular products are made of organic molecules like proteins and fats and contain no cellular or living material.

Cellular products are made of living or once-living cells.

Products harvested from cell cultures are exactly the same as those harvested from an animal or a plant; the only difference is how they are made.

Acellular animal products are made without animals by using a microbe like yeast or bacteria.