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

These tiny insects taste like pumpkin seeds 30 January 2017 At first glance, it looks like a fancy filing system. But on closer inspection, the bottom drawer contains some surprising inhabitants: fresh mealworms. Unger is the founder and CEO of LIVIN Farms , a sustainable food company that manufactures DIY mealworm farms. Dubbed the Hive, her desktop devices are part of a recent push to embrace insects as a sustainable, nutritious protein source. According to a report by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization , the world will be home to 9 billion people by 2050 -- and insects' ability to provide food at a low environmental cost will be "fundamental to the survival of humankind." [more]
24 January 2017 According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, insects consume six times less feed while providing three times as much protein per pound. And though long an accepted source of people’s diet in parts of Latin America and Asia, they’re now starting to trend among adventurous North American foodies. [more]
Edible Insects Have More Iron Than Sirloin Beef 29 November 2016 Move over meat. Beetle larvae consumed as food in some parts of the world deliver as much iron to the body, gram per gram, as beef ( J. Ag. Food Chem. 2016, DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.6b03286 ). Iron is an essential dietary mineral, but there’s widespread iron deficiency among populations that eat little or no meat. That’s because humans absorb much less iron from plant-based foods than from meat. [more]

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last updated:  Wednesday, August 17, 2016