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Why does the #debate on the use of edible insects risk precluding a more sustainable future?

Updated: May 22, 2023

The incorporation of insects into our diets is viewed as a potential sustainable solution to address the challenges posed by a growing global population and increasing demand for animal protein.

Insects possess a high protein yield and necessitate fewer resources compared to conventional animals like cattle and poultry, while also emitting fewer greenhouse gases. Nonetheless, the ongoing debate surrounding the consumption of insects as food threatens to impede progress towards a more sustainable future due to cultural and psychological barriers that hinder acceptance among Western consumers. Furthermore, the practice of insect farming for human consumption is still in its early stages and is unable to satisfy the worldwide demand for protein at present. To overcome these barriers and pave the way for a more sustainable future, continued research and development in insect farming, coupled with consumer education and awareness about the benefits of insects as food, are crucial. While the acceptance and widespread use of insect foods could potentially pose a threat to Italian food products if embraced by Italian food culture, it is important to note that insects have yet to gain significant traction as a food source in Italy, and the market for insects as food remains relatively small. Italian cuisine boasts a rich variety of traditional and high-quality food products deeply rooted in the country's culture and history. The production of insects for food is still in its developmental phase and cannot currently jeopardize or meet the global demand for protein, thus posing no significant threat to Italian food products. Insects can serve as a sustainable source of food for farm animals such as chickens, fish, and pigs. Unlike animals used in feed production, such as fish, insects bred for food or fertilizer production do not require antibiotics for growth and produce hypoallergenic protein meals. Additionally, insect excrement can be utilized as a natural fertilizer for plants. Insect feces fertilizers, which use insect excrement as a source of plant nutrients, contain essential elements like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium—crucial for plant growth. Moreover, insect excrement also contains micronutrients like calcium, magnesium, and iron. These fertilizers are considered a sustainable alternative to chemical fertilizers as they leverage a natural source of nutrients without the need for chemical inputs in their production. (Source: Scientific Article)

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