14 Mar Principles for the responsible use of farmed insects as livestock feed
Insect farming is advancing into the livestock feed arena. Replacing conventional feed ingredients, insects can utilise food waste and food harvest and processing byproducts, potentially providing a use for this low value biomass. Researchers from Wageningen University & Research have published an article in Nature Food outlining guiding principles for responsible farming of insects for feed.
The major point made by the authors is that insects should not compete for crop biomass that could already be used for human or animal feed directly. This introduces an extra step in the process that would likely negate sustainability benefits. In this respect, insects would form the “last resort” before composting or landfill.
On top of this, insects should be farmed on feed that allows high yields and ensures that their inclusion in feed rations improves livestock productivity. Welfare concerns were also noted, both of the insects and the livestock consuming them.
Finally, the world needs to catch up to the use of insects as feed: regulatory frameworks will need to be updated, and food safety measures put in place to ensure that the insects are not a risk to livestock or humans as a result of the waste streams they consume.
The authors formalised these considerations into these seven principles as a starting point for using farmed insects as livestock feed. This course of action does require system level changes but, if applied correctly, could aid achievement of more circular and sustainable food systems.
This SNippet was written by Jade Rivers, a Pūhoro STEMM academy summer student in the SNi team.
Photo by Virginia Sea Grant on flickr