Showing results for: Insects
Over 40% of insect species are at risk of extinction over the next few decades and 75% to 98% of insect biomass has already been lost, according to this review of the current state of knowledge about insect declines, with habitat loss through conversion to intensive agriculture being the main driver. Agro-chemical pollutants, invasive species and climate change are also driving insect declines.
This paper explores attitudes towards eating insects, based on a online survey of Finnish consumers. It finds that both vegetarians and omnivores are more likely than vegans to consider eating food made from insects.
UK supermarket Sainsbury’s has started selling edible insects in 250 of its stores, becoming the first UK supermarket to do so. The barbecue-flavour roasted crickets are made by Eat Grub and contain 68 grams of protein per 100 grams of dried crickets. Eat Grub founder Shami Radia told Sky News, “We're on a mission to show the West that as well as having very strong sustainability and environmental credentials, they are also seriously tasty and shouldn't be overlooked as a great snack or recipe ingredient.”
Israeli startup Taranis has raised $20 million in funding for its aerial imaging technology, which uses multispectral images from satellites, planes and drones to scan fields. Artificial intelligence then identifies threats such as insects, crop disease, weeds and nutrient deficiencies. The company claims its technology can increase crop yields by up to 7.5%.
Losses of wheat, rice and maize to insects could increase by 10 to 25% per degree Celsius of climate warming, according to this paper. This is due to two main factors: insects have faster metabolisms at higher temperatures and therefore need to eat more; and insect population growth rates will also change with temperature.
The common weed killer glyphosate targets an enzyme only found in plants and microorganisms. However, a new paper finds that glyphosate can harm honey bees even though they lack the targeted enzyme. Glyphosate does this by changing the balance of microorganisms (some of which contain the relevant enzyme) found in the bees’ guts, making the bees more susceptible to infections.
When given a choice between food with or without an added neonicotinoid pesticide (thought to be harmful to bees), bees initially show no preference for the pesticide, but over time choose to feed on the pesticide-laced food. This means that pesticide-treated crops may become disproportionately attractive to bees, increasing the bees’ exposure to harmful compounds. The study did not identify the mechanism by which bees develop a preference for the pesticide.
The BEEHAVE model is a freely available simulation tool that can be used to understand how different stressors affect the development and survival of honeybee colonies. A newly launched update, Bumble-BEEHAVE, models the behaviour of six UK bumblebee species.
FCRN member Afton Halloran has edited this book, which outlines the role of edible insects in food systems around the world. Topics include nutrition, consumer acceptance, environmental impacts, using insects as animal feed and legal regulation.
Over two billion people in developing countries are smallholder farmers and often depend on pollinators, according to this report by the UK Collaborative on Development Sciences. The report finds that insufficient pollination has already been found across many crops in the developing world, which could negatively affect cash crops (such as coffee and cocoa) and intake of nutritious foods such as fruit and nuts. The report points to a lack of data on pollinators in developing countries, and calls for further research, education programmes and sustainable development projects incorporating bee-keeping.
European Union member countries have voted to ban three neonicotinoid pesticides. Neonicotinoids have been linked to the decline of bees and other pollinators. Neonicotinoids will be banned from use in open fields by the end of 2018, but will still be permitted inside closed greenhouses.
This book, by Sirpa Sarlio, explores various aspects of the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the global food system, discusses health and sustainability aspects of specific foods including insects and meat substitutes and sets out options for promoting healthy and sustainable diets.
Insects may not be the environmentally-friendly alternative protein source that the FAO and many entrepreneurs hope, according to Oxford University doctoral candidate Joshua Evans.
The Financial Times explores several emerging trends in the global food industry, including eating insects, new retail models in China, sugar taxes, food waste monitoring and genetically modified crops and animals.
This paper compares stylised, hypothetical dietary scenarios to assess the potential for reducing agricultural land requirements. It suggests that a combination of smaller shifts in consumer diet behaviour – such as reducing beef consumption by replacing with chicken, introducing insects into mainstream diets and reducing consumer waste – could reduce agricultural land requirements.