MORE than £10,000 has been awarded to researchers at a Scottish college to study the use of edible insects in animal feed.
With insects hailed as a high protein food source, experts from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) will look into farming them as a potential way to develop more sustainable agriculture in Scotland.
The research will bring together insect farmers, feed business operators and policy makers to develop a strategy for rearing insects for animal feed, especially the black soldier fly.
The search for more sustainable methods comes as global demand for animal products is predicted to more than double by 2050.
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Livestock production already accounts for about 18 percent of global carbon emissions and 70 percent of all agricultural land use worldwide, SRUC said.
SRUC experts were awarded the Innovative Knowledge Exchange award of nearly £10,700 for research, funded by the Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes (Sefari) Gateway.
As well as leading the animal feed project, researcher Dr Pattanapong Tiwasing is calling for the lifting of restrictions on the sale of whole insects and their ingredients for human consumption in the UK.
The European Commission approved the sale of whole insects and their ingredients subject to specific authorizations in 2018, however, following Brexit, this does not apply in the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) where edible insects are not regulated or approved for sale.
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Dr Tiwasing, originally from Thailand, where eating insects as a snack is the order of the day, said: ‘The introduction of new and developing EU regulations on edible insect products has muddied the waters, leading to confusing procedures for those seeking to trade and export edible insects.
“This has had a particular impact after the UK’s exit from the EU because it means that there are currently no regulations for the edible insects industry (for human consumption), and it is therefore illegal to sell insects for human consumption in the United Kingdom.
“Policy makers need to take urgent action for the insect industry to survive in Europe and the UK.”
The academic has called on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) to urgently introduce a new ‘Britain specific transitional measure’ to allow the insects sector to survive in the UK.
FSA and FSS were invited to comment.