If recent reports are to be believed it won’t be long before we are all enjoying insects as part of our evening meal! In fact in many countries people are already supplementing their diets with edible insects. Furthermore, in Mexico a group of university students developed chocolate and pasta made of insect larvae. They did this in order to increase the protein content of these nutritionally deficient foods. One website which sells insects for human consumption, even has a Valentine’s Day insect pack that could be given to those you love!
Traditionally Indigenous Australians enjoyed insects as part of their diet, but with the arrival of Europeans the dietary preferences of people living in Australia changed.
There are a number of reported benefits of including insects in our diets. First of all, many insects are nutritionally dense and full of protein. From an environmental point of view the human consumption of insects may be more sustainable than the farming of larger animals. One of the main environmental concerns with farming insects for human consumption however, is the potential certain species of insects will become invasive.
As with any new product, there are legal concerns relating to the regulation of producing a new food for human consumption. This is complicated by the fact that every country has different regulatory structures and barriers. Furthermore, it is not only legal issues that are important to this area- science and social science considerations are also important.
Vivek Nemane, who is a PhD student with the Ag Law Centre is a co-author of a recent publication that explores the importance of creating harmonised standards on safety, marketing, and animal welfare as it relates to the sustainable growth of the insect business. Vivek became interested in this area after working at the Finnish Institute where he was engaged in scientific research relating to probiotic foods.
Congratulations Vivek on contributing to such an important area of research!