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Making the case for using insects as food for both humans and livestock

crickets food
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Two pairs of academics are making the case for using insects as a food source in Perspectives pieces published in the journal Science.

The first pair, Arup Kumar Hazarika and Unmilan Kalita, with Cotton University and Barnagar College, respectively, both in India, argue that a strong case can be made for using to meet the growing need for food around the world in the coming years. Arnold van Huis with Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands and Laura Gasco with the University of Torino in Italy argue that there is a strong case to be made for using insects as feed for .

As the global population rises and the land available for growing more food becomes more scarce, scientists around the around the world have begun looking for alternative sources. In the two papers in Science, the authors all agree that insects could provide the answer.

In the first paper, the authors note that humans eating insects is not novel. People have been eating them for as long as there have been people. And many people in the world today still eat them; however, most do not. And in fact, in most places, people see eating insects as disgusting or even dirty. That could change, the authors argue, if insects were provided through commercially viable outlets.

They note that eating insects can provide many nutritional benefits—common crickets, for example, are high in protein. That makes them competitive with meat from animals. The researchers note also that insects require fewer resources to raise than livestock, making them a prime green alternative.

In the second paper, the authors note that currently, most livestock feed is made from fishmeal and soybean meal. They also note that the production of meat worldwide uses between 70% and 80% of all and yet produces about 25% of the protein consumed by humans.

They suggest that replacing conventional feed with feed made from insects would free up large parcels of land now used to grow food for livestock. It would also be a healthier for the animals. Also, farming insects is likely to become more feasible as the planet continues to warm.

In both articles, the authors argue that the only factor holding back the use of insects as a food source is the will to do so by those producing the food.

More information: Arup Kumar Hazarika et al, Human consumption of insects, Science (2023). DOI: 10.1126/science.abp8819

Arnold van Huis et al, Insects as feed for livestock production, Science (2023). DOI: 10.1126/science.adc9165

Journal information: Science

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Citation: Making the case for using insects as food for both humans and livestock (2023, January 13) retrieved 30 May 2024 from https://phys.org/news/2023-01-case-insects-food-humans-livestock.html
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