The demand for protein sources of animal origin is increasing worldwide and the hunt for alternatives is on. Insect derived protein for human consumption and for animal feed is a hot topic and the 2013 FAO-report on the same topic states that innovative ways of producing food to support the growing world population is inevitable.
We are here at the four day conference Insects to feed the world in Wageningen, “the city of insects”, where 450 insect lovers from 45 different countries have come together to share their latest research results, discuss new tendencies and try out the edge of culinary entomophagic endeavours.
The intense program today has been greatly focused on human consumption of insects, which was encouraged by the insect snacks provided throughout the day. To give you an idea of the topics covered today: we learnt that Thailand is one of the few countries where the consumption of insects is increasing and where insects cost more per kilo than chicken. We also learnt that aquatic worms (not insects but we still like it) like to stick their heads into sewage sludge and in the process degrade the sludge. A perfect example of future applied bioengineering.
Even though the participants and keynote speakers showed that they are well aware that insect food is not the silver bullet for ensuring food security, it was agreed that it has enormous potential that we should not miss the chance to harvest. The buzz among participants during coffee and insect snack breaks was the EU regulation which currently is restricting the use of insect protein as food and feed. However, the appearance by the Director of the European Agricultural Policy and Food Security (among many other titles) clearly shows that this interest is on the international agenda, although there seem to be some distance to cover still.
This blog is by: Cecilia Lalander, Institutionen för energi och teknik, Sveriges landbruksuniversitet, Sweden.
Stefan Diener, Department for Water and Sanitation in Developing Countries (Sandec), Eawag, Switzerland.