Nourishment by Insects!?

Yes, this idea is slowly being more accepted by western societies and becoming accessible to the increasingly growing population worldwide, as we could see in some of the presentations today! Traditionally used in Asian, Latin American and African cuisines, this practice has the potential to play an important role for nutrition security, helping to attend food demand and combat hunger. Due to the limited amount of agricultural land and natural resources, there is an urgent need to find other alternatives for protein sources than conventional meat products. In some places (e.g. Kenya and Uganda), it already constitutes 5–10% of protein intake of the rural and urban populace. Also, livestock production is a leading cause of anthropogenic-induced climate change; therefore more sustainable diets are needed.

The potential of the insects as a source of protein and micronutrients is supported by recent studies that have revealed its outstanding quantity of several amino-acids, minerals and vitamins. Also, one of the components of the arthropod exoskeleton (chitin) is attracting considerable attention due to its role in enhancing immunity. In this context, EntoNutri is a project researching about the use and potential of edible insects to promote insect-based technologies and enhance the productivity and consumption of insects as a food and nutrition security tool. This multinational and multidisciplinary project has brought important results. However, the development and implementation of research and knowledge construction on sustainable rearing and harvesting techniques to ensure that insect products are safe for human consumption are still necessary. They can be contaminated by heavy metals or insecticides, therefore their use for food should be screened for risks to humans, animals, plants, and biodiversity. Moreover, edible insects are harvested naturally in tropical countries, though overexploitation, habitat changes, and environmental contamination threaten this resource.

Last but not least, edible insect´s production and commercialization could improve the wellbeing of select rural communities around the world. For many, trade in edible insects is already a major source of income and considerably contributes to livelihood improvements, and the continuation of this cultural habit is necessary to open an opportunity for minorities like some smallholders, women and youth.


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