The European Union has started considering alternative feed, such as insect protein, to supply the livestock industry. Insect-derived protein as animal feed is increasingly seen as a solution to diminish the use of imported soy linked to deforestation and to supplement the use of fishmeal from depleted oceans. Camilla Björkbom at Eurogroup for Animals analyses if insect farming is the solution to the animal feed problem.
‘Is Insect Farming Truly a Solution to The Animal Feed Problem?’
The Farm to Fork strategy, a key initiative under the European Green Deal, was presented by the European Commission (EC) in 2020. It aims to accelerate the transition to a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system with a neutral or positive environmental impact that helps to combat climate change and reverse biodiversity loss while ensuring safe, nutritious and sustainable food for all.
As part of the EU’s commitment to sustainable food systems, the Farm to Fork strategy will reduce the European Union’s dependency on imported feed such as soy, which is linked to deforestation. Instead, EU produced feed materials, including both plant protein and alternatives such as insects, should be promoted. In addition to reducing soy dependence, the use of insect protein as feed is seen as having the potential to contribute to a circular economy under the condition that insects can be fed on organic waste. In this editorial we explore the effects that insect farming for feed can have on farming systems and animal welfare, including on insect welfare.
Processed animal protein (PAP), including from insects, has been prohibited for use in animal feed in the EU since 2001. The EU feed ban followed the outbreaks of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) which led to the killing of over one million cattle in the UK in the early 1990s. Insect protein has been allowed as feed in aquaculture since 2017, as well as for fur animals and in pet food, but the feed ban has restricted the insect industry’s possibilities to produce insect protein for the animal feed market and thereby their possibilities to scale up.
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