News / Science & Technology

Beetles, Housefly Larvae Show Great Potential for Animal Feed Sector

Marieke Callis feeds mealworms at an insect farm in Ermelo, Netherlands, January 2011.Marieke Callis feeds mealworms at an insect farm in Ermelo, Netherlands, January 2011.
x
Marieke Callis feeds mealworms at an insect farm in Ermelo, Netherlands, January 2011.
Marieke Callis feeds mealworms at an insect farm in Ermelo, Netherlands, January 2011.
Reuters
French start-up company Ynsect has identified a cheap, nourishing and locally produced alternative to soybeans as a vital source of protein in animal feed. The clue is in its name.

Ynsect is not alone in looking to invertebrates to meet a jump in demand for meat and fish, and so for feed, in coming decades.

Black soldier flies, common housefly larvae, silkworms and yellow mealworms were named as among the most promising species for industrial feed output in a report last month by the FAO, the United Nations food agency.

“Given insects' natural role as food for a number of farmed livestock species, it is worth reconsidering their role as feed for specific poultry and fish species,” the Food and Agriculture Organization's report said.

Jean-Gabriel Levon, co-founder of Ynsect, said new protein sources were essential in a market where costs are set to climb.

“Insects are an interesting source which can be bred locally,” said Levon. “We are in the same situation as oil, with resources getting scarcer and more expensive.”

According to the FAO, protein such as meat meal, fishmeal and soymeal make up 60 to 70 percent of the price of feed.

Soybean prices have more than doubled over the past decade due to soaring demand and fishmeal prices have also jumped.

The two-year-old company has been developing an insect-based meal that could make up five to 30 percent of feed products, according to Levon.

Ynsect, which has around 10 rivals globally, is now raising funds to build the first European insect meal production unit by 2014-2015. One well-heated part of the plant would breed insects and the other would crush them into powder.

It aims to focus on using flies and beetles and Levon says a great advantage is that they can eat just about anything - for example human food leftovers such as potato peelings.

Once crushed, co-products such as shells can be used in the pharmaceutical sector, for cosmetics and wastewater treatments.

Great fertilizer

What is more, insect droppings make great fertilizer.

“Insects drink very little water. Their droppings are very dry. They're like sand and have all the qualities needed for a classic fertilizers,” Levon said.

Stephane Radet, who heads France's animal feed industry lobby [SNIA] said he was cautious, as the protein product would have to prove itself to feed makers and win public acceptance.

“For new material to enter the manufacturing chain, it has to meet four major criteria: safety, quality, competitiveness and acceptability in the food sector, processors and at the bottom of the chain, the consumer,” said Radet.

While another pioneering company, South Africa's AgriProtein Technologies, is rearing house flies and using insect flour for cattle feed, this is not allowed in the European Union where the “mad cow” disease crisis of the late 1990s has led to caution over the use of processed animal proteins [PAPs].

PAPs, particularly when cattle were given bovine protein, were blamed for the bovine spongiform encephalopathy [BSE] outbreak.

The European Commission has approved the use of PAPs to feed fish from June 1, which includes insect meal. It may allow their use in pig and poultry feed from 2014, lifting a ban on animal by-products imposed during the BSE outbreak.

The EU imports about 70 percent of its protein-rich material for animal feed. According to European Feed Manufacturer's Federation Fefac, Europe's market for processed animal feed is worth around 45 billion euros ($60 billion) a year.

Ynsect aims to start with fish feed, where insect-based meal could replace increasingly scarce fishmeal and fishoil.

According to the FAO, fish farming is the fastest-growing animal food producing sector and will need to expand sustainably to keep up with increasing demand.

Trials on certain fish species showed that diets where up to 50 percent of fishmeal was replaced with grass hopper meal produced equally good results as fishmeal only, the FAO added.

A further step one day might be to rear insects for direct human consumption. The FAO said insects already feed more than two billion humans in Africa, Asia and South America.

EU regulations do not allow this, however, and more research is needed on issues such as allergies. Only a few daring restaurants in Europe are experimenting for curious clients.

“As for targeting the human food market, that is for some other time. Eating insects is a laugh, people may be curious, but as far as we are concerned that won't be happening for the time being,” said Levon.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More