Researchers have been awarded more than £10,000 to study the use of edible insects in animal feed.
With such insects being hailed as a source of protein-rich food, experts from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) will explore the possibility of breeding them as a potential way to develop sustainable agriculture in Scotland.
The research will bring together insect breeders, feed entrepreneurs and policymakers to develop a strategy for breeding insects for animal feed, particularly the black soldier fly.
The search for more sustainable methods comes as global demand for animal products is expected to more than double by 2050.
Livestock production already accounts for about 18% of global carbon emissions and 70% of all agricultural land use worldwide, SRUC said.
Experts from SRUC have received the Innovative Knowledge Exchange award worth nearly £10,700 for research funded by the Sefari (Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes) Gateway.
The researcher dr. As well as leading the animal feed project, Pattanapong Tiwasing is calling for the lifting of restrictions on the sale of whole insects and their ingredients for human consumption in the UK.
The European Commission approved the sale of whole insects and their ingredients in 2018, subject to specific approvals, but post-Brexit this will no longer apply in the UK (with the exception of Northern Ireland), where edible insects are not regulated or permitted for sale.
dr Tiwasing, who is originally from Thailand, where eating insects as a snack is commonplace, said: “The introduction of new and evolving EU rules relating to edible insect products has clouded the waters and resulted in confusing procedures for those who want to trade and export edibles insects.
“This has had a particular impact following the UK’s exit from the EU as there are currently no regulations for the edible insects (for human consumption) industry and it is therefore illegal to sell insects for human consumption in the UK .
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“Policymakers must act urgently to ensure the survival of the insect industry in Europe and the UK.”
The scientist has called on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) to urgently introduce a new “Britain-specific transitional measure” to allow the insect sector in the UK to survive.
FSA and FSS were asked to comment.