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Stirling Studies Insects as Sustainable Feed Protein

24 April 2013

SCOTLAND - A new €3-million, EU-funded project, PROteINSECT, is investigating how flies can contribute to the growing demand for protein in livestock and farmed fish feeds at the University of Sterling's Institute of Aquaculture.

With an increasing global population and a rise in per-capita meat and fish consumption in a number of developing countries, there is a need to investigate alternative sources of protein for use in livestock and commercial fish feeds. Europe’s high demand for feed protein is currently largely met though imported soya a nd increasingly expensive and unsustainably sourced fish meal and oil.

For generations, a variety of insects have been a valuable source of protein for both human consumption and animal feed across continents outside of Europe. As the consumption habits of millions shift to chicken, pork, and fish, insects have the potential to be utilised more effectively as a natural ingredient in high-protein livestock feeds.

Although there is growing European interest in insects as a novel source of human food, the PROteINSECT project is focussing solely on its potential use and value in livestock and fish feeds. The three-year project, launched earlier this year, is being led by the UK-based Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA), located near York, working together with an international, interdisciplinary consortium of partners from Europe, Asia and Africa.

The Institute of Aquaculture Stirling is bringing its expertise working in both tropical and temperate commercial aquaculture and will be carrying out insect-based feed trials in conjunction with a commercial tilapia farming company partner in Ghana, and also in UK with a commercial fish bait manufacturer near Hull.

Insects require a feed source themselves, and to avoid competing with other uses, PROteINSECT will focus on the use and recycling of waste materials for scaling up the production of fly larvae.

Elaine Fitches the FERA Project Coordinator stated: “PROteINSECT is focusing its research efforts on flies not only for their ability to grow rapidly on a range of organic wastes, but also because there is already considerable expertise in their rearing in countries such as Mali, Ghana and China. PROteINSECT provides us with the opportunity to work in partnership to exchange and build on existing expertise and improve methods suitable for both local and commercial scale production.”

With three billion extra mouths to feed by 2050, the need to improve the efficient use of land for protein production and the effective recycling and utilisation of waste materials has never been greater. Flies, whilst considered traditionally as a household nuisance, have the potential to become a cost-effective novel source of protein for livestock and fish feeds of the future.”

Further Reading

You can find out more about the view the PROteINSECT project by clicking here.

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