Bugs to the rescue: utilizing bugs as animal feed might minimize deforestation – report | Bugs


Insect protein in animal feed could replace 20% of UK soy consumption by 2050, according to a report by the WWF.

The study, which is putting forward a plan for the UK to accelerate the introduction of insect protein in animal feed, also found that UK manufacturers could meet just under half of the demand for the protein.

Soy has become an important part of animal feed, but the increasing demand for the plant is linked to deforestation in South America.

It is estimated that more than 1 million tonnes of soy used by UK ranchers could have been linked to deforestation in 2019.

Mollie Gupta, WWF Forest Raw Materials Manager, said the results were the first to quantify the benefits of insect protein for the UK. “We have been looking at insect protein as an alternative to soy for 18 months. We always thought it had huge potential, but to say it can cut down to a fifth of our soy imports was enormous. “

In order to realize this potential, major hurdles have to be overcome, especially legislation. There is a twofold legislative burden because feed regulations affect what can be fed and what they can then be fed to.

Insect protein is limited to use in pet food and aquafeed, where it mainly competes with fishmeal, another unsustainable source of protein.

The report calls on the government to allow insect protein in pig and poultry feed, which are heavily reliant on soy. This will open up the market for the protein and allow for increased production; the EU will approve the use of insects in pig and poultry feed this summer.

The report also addresses the need for legislation to expand the range of raw materials that can be used for insect breeding, including products containing meat and fish, such as food surpluses from manufacturing.

Keiran Olivares Whitaker, founder of Entocycle, an insect company that aims to become the UK’s first commercial black soldier fly facility this year, said the UK “now has a real chance to legislate and” [become] a global leader in sustainable insect protein that attracts investment and talent from around the world. “

Gupta said it was also important for the government to support insect production in the same way it subsidizes other agricultural activities or industries, such as anaerobic digestion, which directly competes for raw materials like crops and food waste. This would help balance the cost of insect protein with fish meal in the short term and soy meal in the longer term, she predicted.

The report also highlighted the role retailers could play in promoting the use of insect protein in animal feed in their supply chain and educating consumers about the benefits. The French supermarket Auchan already sells trout fed with insects, while Dutch supermarkets sell oerei eggs laid by hens fed black soldier fly larvae.

Tesco, who worked with WWF on the report, provided Entocycle with seed funding and introduced AgriGrub, another black soldier fly start-up, to some of its suppliers to help them source raw materials and conduct product trials [insect manure].

“We want to promote alternative feed ingredients such as insects, albeit in small amounts initially, but there is a clear goal for us to go in that direction,” said Ashwin Prasad, Chief Product Officer at Tesco. “There is an opportunity to come to the fore and talk about insect meal as a more positive feed ingredient and we have seen retailers in France, for example, do this.”

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