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

17 February 2015 The world’s largest fly farm is about to open in South Africa as part of an initiative to produce sustainable feed for chicken and fish. Industrial farmed chicken and fish eat fish meal, which is bad for the environment because it depletes already fragile fish resources. To create 1 kilogram of high-protein fish meal, for example, it takes 4.5 kilogrammes of smaller pelagic fish such as anchovies and sardines, according to Time Magazine . [more]
28 January 2015 Neither Belgium nor the European Union has any specific regulations regarding breeding and marketing insects for human consumption, but the trade is tolerated. And why not? Insects, according to the Scientific Committee of the (Belgium) Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain, “offer great potential” as alternative sources of dietary protein. [more]
27 January 2015 ¿Usted se ha preguntado cómo se alimentarán en el futuro? ¿Qué comerán nuestros nietos y sus hijos? Es muy probable que los alimentos que conocemos hoy serán vistos como cosa del pasado. En este momento, de hecho, hay gente trabajando en la creación de lo que llevarán a sus platos las próximas generaciones: carne diseñada en laboratorio, empaques masticables e insectos crujientes y nutritivos. Es un reto urgente: para el año 2050 la población mundial aumentará en 2.300 millones de personas, por lo que habrá 9.300 millones de bocas exigiendo comida. Los recursos son limitados, de modo que todo depende de lo que hagamos hoy: y la ciencia es la respuesta. [more]

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last updated:  Tuesday, February 17, 2015