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G. Michael Chippendale, Ph.D.
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COMMENTARY

Use of Nutrients from Insects for Human Food and Animal Feed

To address global food security, increased attention is being placed on expanding food sources available to humans. One way to improve the sustainable sourcing of human food is to increase the use of nutrients from insects in the human diet. For example, protein obtained from mass-reared insects, such as mealworms and crickets, has the potential to become an important source of essential amino acids in the human diet.

Currently, the consumption of insects by humans is widely viewed as a fringe activity in the western world. However, this viewpoint is likely to change as pressure on the human food supply builds from the effects of global warming on agriculture and the food requirements of an increasing human population.

Insects, the most diverse form of life on earth, are efficient converters of their food into body tissue. Some insect species can be mass-reared in small spaces using plant-based food and with minimal requirements for water. Using modern technology, it is possible to obtain nutrients from them on a large scale. Business opportunities in the private sector are ramping up into using insects as a source of human food and as feed for farm animals and fish.

A valuable source of information on this topic is available in the 2013 FAO publication by van Huis, A., J. Van Itterbeeck, H. Klunder, E. Mertens, A. Halloran, G. Muir, & P. Vantomme.
Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security.