What it's about:
Insect farming has experienced an investment boom in the past year, with global food giants studying how they can reduce their reliance on soy protein by incorporating bugs into their food.
The $400-billion-a-year business has attracted investment from U.S. agricultural powerhouse Cargill Inc. and Swiss-based Buhler, which makes crop processing machinery. Global fast food chain McDonald’s is reviewing whether it can use insects instead of soy as chicken feed, Reuters reports.
Peas, algae and bacterial proteins are also being studied as alternatives to soy by agricultural companies.
Although scientists and nutritionists have touted the benefits of insect consumption for years, many consumers and regulators remain unconvinced.
The idea of eating insects makes many people’s stomach churn, and regulators have expressed concern that processed bugs may introduce toxins into the food supply. These concerns must be addressed before insects can become a viable alternative to other sources of protein, the article notes.
Why it's noteworthy:
The fact that so many global companies are turning to insects reveals the lengths they will go to find an alternative protein source to soy that is both sustainable and profitable.
The food production industry is investigating different options amid concerns that rising global demand for meat will lead to a protein pinch.
Animal feed production is struggling to keep up with demand, with four pounds of feed needed to produce one pound of pork. Companies have turned to insects as a sustainable and cheap source of protein for livestock and farmed fish.
Investment in the insect farming sector will make a big difference to both the food production industry and the environment, experts predict. Replacing just 10 percent of proteins normally found in feed with insect protein could save a huge amount of resources, according to Robert Nathan Allen, chairman of the North American Coalition for Insect Agriculture.
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