Georgofili World

Newsletter of the Georgofili Academy

Insects for food or feed: an opportunity?

The concerns about the environmental consequences of the intensive farming enforce the idea of the need of a greater food production in accordance with sustainability criteria. Therefore the news about the prospects of using insects as food has raised a great interest. Several newspapers and magazines have treated this topic starting from a 2013 publication by FAO: titled ”Edible insects: future prospects for food an feed security”. The attention of the audience has been raised by the curiosity and the sense of disgust as well that European people traditionally have towards insects. To face the problem related to the possible use of insects is dietary habits in an adequate manner the Italian entomological scientific institutions have  or sponsored or directly organized some specific conferences. In such occasions they have discussed about the many implications about rules, hygiene, social and technical systems as well. The main speaker was Paul Vantomme of F:A.O. and he highlighted the world situation: about 1% of food is based on insects and he mentioned the “Protein Bar” available in the having this kind of origin: Insects have an amazing capability of transforming veg products and lots of low quality substances or even rubbish into animal proteins, the request of which is increasing with the improvement of economic conditions in the developing countries. In Europe important cultural barriers make very difficult to use insects as food, but in a European country, Belgium; the situation is different. A ten species of insects is on sale as food to meet the requests of those citizens of African or Asian origin. Nowadays some official organizations are spotlighting this topic: European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has formed a working team who will give an opinion on it by 2015. In Europe we can foresee that the prospects for the use of insects as feed, especially in poultry, are great but the way to obtain the necessary authorization to use them as food or feed will be certainly very long and complicated. Furthermore in Italy probably this topic will remain only a curiosity due to the great interest for the typical food. On the contrary the interest and the real applications could be deeply different in other parts of the world, particularly in Asia.