Emerging biotechnologies for an ecological revolution

The companies, technologies, and applications that could prevent environmental collapse and usher in a new economic order.

Welcome to Fifth Industrial, an initiative to discover and share the biotechnologies that make me optimistic about the medium-term future for Earth’s biodiversity and climate, our economic models, animal welfare, and humanity.

My thesis is that we are on the cusp of a Fifth Industrial Revolution that will transform prevailing production methods for food and materials. Built on foundational advancements in biochemistry, computing, ecology, synthetic biology (& obviously much more), I see three core "ecobiotechnologies” [biotechnologies designed to promote environmental goals and circular systems] emerging that could lead to radical socio-economic shifts.

These core “ecobiotechnologies” are:

  • Cellular Agriculture — production of biomolecules (like proteins) and whole cells (animal and microbial) through fermentation and cell-culture processes.

  • Biofabrication — manufacturing of materials with biodesign principles (like biomimicry) and leveraging self-assembling qualities of living organisms (like fungal mycelium).

  • Bioagronomics — applications of biotechnology (like genetic engineering) and systems-based approaches (like soil microbiome) to agriculture. Includes crop optimization for novel applications and plant molecular farming.

The result of this revolution will be 1) no longer using animals to produce food, materials, and medicines, 2) decoupling economic growth from carbon emissions, 3) commercial models built on principles of industrial ecology, and 4) newly-enabled colonization of planets to ensure long term survival of humanity and biodiversity of life.

At a glance (kind of)

What I’m doing

In ~monthly newsletters, I’ll highlight an enabling science, emerging technology, driver of change, innovator, or implication of the impending “ecobiotechnological revolution.” I’ll succinctly look at its history, key actors, and opportunities for investment where relevant. Along the way, I’ll weave the topics together in a mosaic that (hopefully) shows how overlooked biotechnological innovations might fundamentally transform massive industries and the fraught economy-planet relationship.

Future topics like….

  • Making multivitamins and meat on Mars

  • Mining and construction with mushrooms

  • Conservation through biotech

  • Blood as a service

  • Microbial permacultures

  • The Viridian Design Movement

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Please feel free to tell your friends. Have any story ideas? Let me know!

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Thanks for your interest fellow eco-industrialists!

-Nate

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A bit about me: My name is Nate Crosser. I’m driven by a fascination with biotechnology, the framework of effective altruism, animal welfare, and relentless optimism. I work at a leading animal welfare non-profit using biotechnology innovation to transform animal agriculture. I’ve previously worked at a biotechnology incubator/research park and earned my J.D. and B.A. from the University of Kansas. In my free time, I like writing, cooking up the new alternative protein products, and sampling the wines of Napa, California where I live. Add me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Disclaimer: I am writing this in my individual capacity and am not representating my employer or its views. Nothing herein should be considered affiliated with the Good Food Institute.