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

World's first household edible insect farm 7 July 2016 A startup in China has created a hive to grow your own edible insects. The duo behind the project say insects are a valuable source of protein and could help feed the world's growing population [more]
23 June 2016 The animal feed industry is looking for alternatives to environmentally harmful ingredients such as soybean meal and fishmeal. Hannah van Zanten researched the impact of housefly larvae as a food source and concluded that insects will primarily be interesting as animal feed if we become less dependent on fossil fuels. [more]
New study highlights potential of Hermetia meal 10 June 2016 Insects will likely play an important role as protein sources for livestock in the future. Many insect species are able to convert materials not suitable for human nutrition – or even waste – into valuable protein with a favourable amino acid composition for poultry and other livestock. A feeding trial with partly de-fatted meal of dried Hermetia illucens larvae (Hermetia meal) reared on vegetarian by-products of the pasta and convenience food industry was carried out in small groups of Lohmann Selected Leghorn laying hens (four rounds, 10 hens/round). [more]

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last updated:  Thursday, July 21, 2016