This document reports on the findings of a small project in which we used the tools of Foresight to think about the potential of edible insects to contribute to global food security in a future global food system.
Foresight offers a tool box of approaches and methods for thinking about the future in a methodical, deliberative way. Foresight methods can be used to anticipate (rather than predict) plausible future developments, which can help society to prepare itself to meet future challenges, and also to think about ways to steer towards desired futures and avoid negative outcomes.
Researchers have identified more than 1,900 species of insect that feature in human diets around the world. Edible insect species in general are found to be good sources of healthy protein together with some fat and dietary fibre, along with useful quantities of important micronutrients. It has been proposed that edible insects could make a significant contribution to global food security in the future.
Specifically, some experts think that insects could be a more sustainable source of protein compared to conventional livestock because they convert feed to edible food more efficiently than chickens, pigs and cattle, while producing fewer greenhouse gas emissions and requiring less land and water. Edible insects are also being developed as an alternative feed for conventional livestock and farmed fish, in place of grain crops and fishmeal.
To consider the potential contributions of edible insects in the future global food system, we undertook three activities: a literature review; an online guided discussion with stakeholders, incorporating a questionnaire; and a Foresight scenario exercise. We involved stakeholders in the online discussion and scenario workshop who possessed relevant knowledge and expertise in fields such as entomophagy (insect-eating), nutrition, food security, public health and regulation.