Trends towards 2050 predict a steady population increase to 9 billion people, forcing an increased food/feed output from available agro-ecosystems resulting in an even greater pressure on the environment. Scarcities of agricultural land, water, forest, fishery and biodiversity resources, as well as nutrients and non-renewable 
energy are foreseen. 

The Contribution of Insects to Food Security, Livelihoods and the Environment

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Edible insects contain high quality protein, vitamins and amino acids for humans. Insects have a high food conversion rate, e.g. crickets need six times less feed than cattle, four times less than sheep, and twice less than pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein. Besides, they emit less greenhouse gases and ammonia than conventional livestock. Insects can be grown on organic waste. Therefore, insects are a potential source for conventional production (mini-livestock) of protein, either for direct human consumption, or indirectly in recomposed foods (with extracted protein from insects); and as a protein source into feedstock mixtures.

Since 2003, FAO has been working on topics pertaining to edible insects in many countries worldwide. FAO ’s contributions cover the following thematic areas:

  • the generation and sharing of knowledge through publications, expert meetings and a web portal on edible insects;
  • awareness-raising on the role of insects through media collaboration (e.g. newspapers, magazines and TV);
  • the provision of support to member countries through field projects (e.g. the Laos Technical Cooperation Project);
  • networking and multidisciplinary interactions (e.g. stakeholders working with nutrition, feed and legislation-related issues) with various sectors within and outside FAO .

 News

16 May 2017 Replacing half of the meat eaten worldwide with crickets and mealworms would cut farmland use by a third, substantially reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, researchers say. While consumers' reluctance to eat insects may limit their consumption, even a small increase would bring benefits, the team says. This could potentially be achieved by using insects as ingredients in some pre-packaged foods. Using data collected primarily by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, scientists have compared the environmental impacts of conventional meat production with those of alternative sources of food. It is the first study to do so. [more]
Insect-Based Munchies Coming to Grocery Stores Across Switzerland 16 May 2017 Switzerland is known for its luxurious cheeses and velvety-smooth chocolates, but creepy crawly cuisine might become the country’s next food craze. As the The Local reports, the Swiss government recently lifted restrictions on selling insects and insect-based products. Grocery stores are now allowed to stock mealworms, locusts and crickets, provided that the snacks comply with food safety regulations. [more]
16 May 2017 Serious moves are being made to put the likes of crickets, grasshoppers, buffalo worms and meal worms firmly on the menu. Those who believe that insects are both a valuable source of protein and a food that requires less energy to produce, believe a big change is on the way. [more]

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last updated:  Wednesday, August 17, 2016