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


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 .


Food safety aspects of edible insects outlined in new publication 9 April 2021 Edible insects can diversify diets, improve livelihoods, contribute to food and nutrition security and have a lower ecological footprint as compared to other sources of protein. These potential benefits combined with a heightened interest in exploring alternative sources of food that are both nutritious and environmentally sustainable are spurring commercial production of insects as food and animal feed. While acknowledging the different opportunities that the sector might bring, this publication analyses the food safety implications associated with edible insects. Some key potential food safety hazards for edible insects are considered in this publication - biological (bacteria, virus, fungi, parasites), chemical (mycotoxins, pesticides, heavy metals, antimicrobials), and physical. The potential for allergenic risks associated with edible insects is also discussed. [more]
FAO releases a comprehensive guide to sustainable cricket farming 17 December 2020 Consumer interest in edible insects has been rising in recent years and that has driven a traditional, but local, industry in Southeast Asia to expand to meet increasing global demand. To ensure the rapidly increasing supply can adequately respond to international food safety concerns (and ensure sustainable practices), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with Thailand’s Khon Kaen University , has today published Guidance on sustainable cricket farming , a new comprehensive manual on rearing crickets. [more]
15 December 2020 Join the launch of our new publication on sustainable cricket farming! The webinar, co-organized by FAO offices in Bangkok and Rome, will take place on 17 December, 14:00-15:00 ICT. [more]

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last updated:  Monday, December 14, 2020