Current affairs: Should we be eating insects? 

The mere thought of feasting on insects makes most Brits feel uneasy. However, given the world’s population is growing at a steady rate of 70 million people annually, the food industry is, without a doubt, under substantial pressure. With the threats including overfishing, global warming, the 1 billion people suffering from starvation is likely to rise. A potential solution is promoting the eating of insects: an area known as Entomophagy.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has sought to encourage this practise of eating insects. Steps have been taken and some 1700 insects have been classified as edible.

The general consensus is that insects don’t need to be the only thing eaten: a slight increase in insect consumption could ease the pressure on the world’s food industry. As of 2018, it is estimated around 2 billion people consistently live on a diet of insects but with the world’s total population reaching 9 billion it is clear action needs to be taken.

Options are not an issue with favorites varying. The preferred insects in Thailand are bamboo worms and grasshoppers, and South Africa and Cameroon enjoy caterpillars and termites. Increased use of insect protein has also been on the rise in the pet food industry. The proteins in insects are not recognised by animals’ digestive systems so do not cause irritation or illness like other food not designed for pets.

However, there are important disadvantages which could pop up if edible insects are not dealt with carefully. There is the risk of spore forming bacteria growing in dead insects which leads to certain food poisoning. The threats of bioaccumulation are also present. Some insects like locusts are often targeted by pesticides which build up in their bodies, hence making them unsuitable for human consumption.

On the whole, insects provide a great deal of promise to helping solve global issues like starvation. With the help of knowledgeable agencies like the FAO, there is serious potential for an increase in Entomophagy.