Hello Everyone- Another week, another article to discuss with you!
Here is a great review on where we are presently with regards to mass producing insects (i.e., food and feed). What I like about this article (by my colleague and friend Christian Nansen, his student [Trevor] and others) is that it encourages individuals to, 1) not have tunnel vision with regards to the insects targeted for the food and feed sector, and 2) consider traditional routes for enhancing mass-production of the insect models currently implemented by the industry.
Fowles, T.M. & Nansen, C. Agron. Sustain. Dev. (2019) 39: 31. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-019-0577
I believe both of these points are worthy of greater discussion (especially point 2), especially considering scientists/industry are quick to apply genetic techniques (see question of the week below) to change the phenotype of an animal to secure the desired features.
As far as diversifying the pool of species currently used for the purposes of producing protein, I completely agree with the authors in terms of encouraging such efforts. Currently, the number of species truly mass produced for use in western culture is extremely limited. When I think about it, cricket, mealworm, and BSF appear to be the primary ones used.
But, as you all know, the diversity of arthropods existing currently on our planet is staggeringly high, and we probably only have a small portion of it identified. I suspect many of those waiting to be described offer great potential for such desired uses (i.e., waste conversion to protein). Not to go on a tangent, but I think this point supports initiatives by taxonomists to describe species around the world. If you ever needed cause to support a natural history museum- well, I think this reason alone would be a good start. Individuals in these museums are charged with cataloging diversity of a number of life forms including insects.
Furthermore, with regards to the species we do currently use, in many cases we do not understand their diversity at the sub-species or population level. Exploring such diversity could lead to the discovery of select populations that are far more efficient at converting waste to protein or handling diverse waste streams. If one were to think about it, following the path used used for animal husbandry with simple breeding programs charged with selecting for these traits. However, selection for a trait of interest could also result in the selection of negative traits as well.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What are your thoughts on using CRISPR-Cas9 technology to produce a "strain" of insect that results in the production of materials (e.g., higher protein, specific vitamins, development at specific temperatures, or to remove the need of sunlight to get BSF to mate) desired?
Insects as Food & Feed In the News....
Save the Lemurs- nice story about eating insects in Madagascar. The article has some amazing photographs and supports one of my previous points about diversifying the insects as food and feed industry.
Know the Other Side- you might find this article interesting as it is a counter story on the use of insects as food and feed. Amazing how things become political!
Individuals with over 25 years research experience with the black soldier fly. We are passionate about the science behind the black soldier fly and its ability to convert waste to protein.
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