Scientists call for more research on sustainability of edible insects

WORLD – Insects-as-food is an undeniably hot and trendy topic given the urgent need to find alternatives to conventional meat products, but according to researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, there is lack of knowledge on their ecological sustainability.

An overwhelmingly increasing population, limited amount of agricultural land and rising environmental concerns about livestock rearing has made scientists think otherwise about insects- an auxilliary diet to animal protein.

First-rate nutritional value, lofty feed conversion ratios makes insects a favorite dish especially among the Westerners who are constantly craving for foods that not only nourish them but also help sustain the planet.

Where the concerns lie

But scientists argue: there is lack of knowledge about the ecological sustainability of the emerging insects-as-food in the industry.

Issues lie beneath insect rearing, safety, and environmental impacts as the industry rises to the occasion to take advantage of the promising sector.

In an opinion article published in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution, the scientists said that further investigation is needed into the full impact of mass rearing insects in countries where these species do not naturally occur.

Other areas where study is needed include sustainable feed production, food safety, and ethics.

As the global demand for protein grows, insect mass rearing can play an important role in the future of food.
We know that we can’t keep doing what we’re doing in terms of producing food and utilizing the land.

Though the industry is in its infancy, some companies are getting bigger and doing well, and the risks will come along with that.

First author Åsa Berggren, a conservation biologist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

The researchers believe there is still time to conduct proper research and shape environmental policy.

In 2017, Americans spent US$55 million on edible insects and several issues need to be addressed to make insect-rich food attractive to a wider western audience.

Insects have the potential to be a good, sustainable, useful food source, but it’s not as simple as rearing them and then that’s it.

There is a lot of effort that needs to be put in to research.

Åsa Berggren

What is trending

Crickets, fruit flies, grasshoppers, and mealworms are all being cultivated for use in consumer food products. 

Cricket ice cream, cricket granola, cricket meatballs, cricket bars, cricket pasta, cricket chips, silkworm chips mealworm burgers, and fruit fly oil have all made headlines all over the world.

As an early bird in the growing insect protein sector, Maple Leaf Foods invested in in edible insect producer Entomo Farms last April.

In January 2018, banking venture firm Dane Creek Capital Corp invested in Canadian insect company, Midgard Insect Farm to support research and expansion.

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