To feed a growing world population with progressively more demanding consumers, food production needs to be increased. This puts a heavy pressure on already limited resources of land, fertilizers and energy, while greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, deforestation, and environmental degradation will increase.
Contribution of edible insects to food security
The need for alternative protein sources (other than “meat” from livestock) is urgent. Promoting edible insects may mitigate the livestock crises. However, if no action is undertaken this food habit will soon disappear. About 1900 species of insects are eaten worldwide, mainly in developing countries. Edible insects constitute high quality food for humans, livestock, poultry and fish. Because insects are cold blooded, they have a high food conversion rate. Besides, they emit less greenhouse gases than conventional livestock. In some cases insects can be grown on organic waste reducing environmental contamination. Therefore, edible insects are a serious alternative for conventional production or other animal based protein sources, either for direct human consumption, or indirectly as feedstock. In the developing world, a re-evaluation of the food resource is required, while in the western world processing technology needs to be developed in order to make it an acceptable food item.
The field of rearing insects for human food and animal feed is new. There are many challenges in bringing insects on the market. How can we rear insects in a sustainable way with low environmental impact and contributing to a circular economy? What type of production design and facilities are needed to farm the insects in an optimal way? The Summer School will address the entire chain from genetics to farming, handling/logistics, processing, marketing and consumption.
- (left) Oviposition (egg laying) of Black Soldier Flies to be used as raw materials for animal feed production, Spain (Paola Gobbi)
- (Middle)Silkworm pupae at a restaurant in South Korea (Verna Hastings)
- (Right) Expert Consultation meeting at FAO Headquarters Rome Italy