Nate Crosser

139Joined Oct 2021

Bio

I'm an alternative protein nut, formerly leading the startup & investor support work at The Good Food Institute. I'm now a VC investor (still alt proteins) at Blue Horizon. My experience is in VC, biotech, ecosystem building, and corporate law. I love writing and have a blog where I cover impactful biotech (https://ecotech.substack.com/)

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Some of my favorite ideas (some listed above):

  1. Venture philanthropy fund - evergreen fund (profits get recycled to make more investments) to invest in technologies/companies  that improve animal lives (alt proteins, more humane slaughter, conservation, etc)
  2. Hedge fund/venture scout model - turn high performing individuals in non-grantmaking roles into part-time grantmakers by giving them philanthropic budgets to deploy autonomously (and only continue giving them funds if they show "impact returns")
  3. Longtermist Animal Welfare NGO - this seems almost completely neglected by both EA LT's and non-EA AW people but there are many long-term nightmare scenarios we are not defending against (e.g. CAFOs in space, insect farming, digital animals, animal pandemics).
  4. Endow a university institute - I am not aware of any institutes dedicated to the study and promotion of animal welfare. "Animal health" is very common at the American land grant universities but in practice "animal health" means the opposite of animal welfare
  5. Mass media - funding of documentaries and other media that can convince mainstream consumers to stop eating animal products or otherwise expand their moral circle
  6. Asset management - Create a philanthropic private equity fund to engage in shareholder activism (such as Carl Ichan's failed bid with McDonalds)
  7. Infrastructure fund for alternative proteins - there is a desperate need for plant protein extraction infrastructure and precision fermentation/cultivated meat bioprocessing infrastructure (about $60Bn needed total). Venture capital largely won't invest because they are too capital intensive and governments mostly refuse to support the sector due to agribusiness lobbying power. Loan guarantees would help too.
  8. Supercharging existing EA AW orgs and Charity Entrepreneurship
  9. Impact litigation to make factory farming a liability like Legal Impact for Chickens 

Happy to share additional details on anything!  These are mostly finance based as that is my background.

Unfortunately, I don't think it is true that "they would be taken better care of as a matter of course due to how scarce resources are." Our current model of animal agriculture is to operate the system incredibly efficiently overall but with no regard for the welfare of the individual animal. "Animal health" is a billion dollar industry constantly optimizing this. The animals are kept alive with drugs and careful diets but live short lives of physical and mental distress until their bodies quickly reach slaughter age. I imagine this system in space would be even more suffering-causing and unnatural than dark sheds.  Chickens that died, for example, in a space CAFO would probably just be recycled to more chicken feed. 

Hi James, I would love to read these reports. I'm considering doing a deeper dive into this. My email is ncrosser@gmail.com if you're willing to share.

I work in the alt protein industry and am a supporter of New Harvest (NH). I previously worked at their chief "competitor" the Good Food Institute (GFI). I donate to NH because they provide an essential counterpart and counterbalance to GFI. NH also seems more nimble and oftentimes more risk-tolerant or creative, though less operationally excellent and globalized. Their budget is routinely small compared to GFI and yet constantly find ways to add value to the industry. It is hard to imagine the cellular agriculture movement, or alt proteins, without NH. I would urge others in this community to support New Harvest. 

Alene, I think about this all the time! I've thought about starting a project or NGO solely to focus on preventing animal agriculture from being a component of  space colonization. If  we do successfully colonize the cosmos then it could  be that the vast majority of humans will end up living elsewhere than Earth. We could be at a unique point in history where we are actively laying the cultural and technological groundwork for those future societies. I wrote a blog on the space food topic that might interest you  https://ecotech.substack.com/p/spacefood?s=w 

Nice idea! As an alt protein investor, I have been waiting for more exciting tofu companies to emerge in the west.  I do like your argument why  we should be promoting tofu right now due to its versatility and uniqueness.  That said, I'd push back on the suggested intervention of promoting rare chinese tofus. There are not existing supply chains or known westernized recipes for them, like there are for simple tofus. Perhaps a better use of resources would be promoting ways of utilizing tofus that people can already readily buy, or even promotion of the true health benefits of soy.

New Harvest, which I think is great, also discontinued what I consider to be their major program (research grants) this year, so it's a head scratcher.

I left GFI in early 2021 for a new opportunity, but stay close with them. Nothing has drastically changed or degraded there. If truly one allegation of "retaliation" against an employee is enough to totally knock off Top Charity, I'm suspicious of the process. We know that The Counter article on the challenges to cultivated meat wasn't the cause -- as has been pointed out -- because New Harvest (a cultivated meat NGO) is still a Standout Charity. Reading between the lines, it seems they think GFI is overfunded.