Insects as sustainable feed for a circular economy - Interdisciplinary approach to value chain development



A new agricultural sector emerges that produces insects as sustainable protein source that can replace the use of soya and fishmeal in feed for livestock. Insects can transform waste streams into high-value proteins. Consequently, insects provide valuable contributions to a circular economy. Insect production has low-value input, high-value output and low environmental impact. Insect production has a much lower water input and much lower greenhouse-gas output per unit product compared to traditional sources of animal protein. Insect production can, therefore, foster food security while minimising climate change and biodiversity loss. To develop this new sector, various topics require investigation. Based on recent (June 2018) recommendations by the Council on Animal Affairs, a multidisciplinary consortium of scientific and societal partners collectively developed an interdisciplinary research programme to addresses the most important questions identified. We aim to (1) investigate insect production, especially focussing on insect health, insect welfare and the intrinsic value of insects, (2) investigate livestock health and welfare and (3) conduct an economic analysis of the value chain development. The programme is organized into three integrated work packages, receiving input from a consortium-wide conceptualization of the value chains with all stakeholders. This will result in an inventory of the various opportunities and risks associated with all components of the value chain. This approach will be used throughout the running time of the programme to allow for a continuous integration of fundamental research results with industrial application and societal developments. The output of the programme will consist of (a) scientific publications, (b) publications in journals for professionals, (c) advisory reports for different societal stakeholders, including politicians, regulators, investment organisations, retail and educational institutes, (d) outreach to the general public. Collectively, the programme will yield high-quality fundamental knowledge to answer important societal and economic questions through an exciting and truly inter-/transdisciplinary approach.
Effectieve start/einddatum06/01/202006/02/2024