Bioeconomy on track

Bioeconomy on track

The thought of eating creepy crawlies may give you the, er, creeps, but what if it can help you save the environment and reduce world hunger?

Entofood Sdn Bhd CEO Franck Ducharne assures that insects are the solution to the pressing food problem globally.

"We today have a permanent food crisis due to global warming and natural disasters affecting the production, supply and cost of food," he explains.

"With more than seven billion people in the world, we already have difficulty providing food for everybody and we have a forecast of another two billion mouths to feed by 2016."

At the same time, there is a growing demand for more protein sources like fish and meat from wealthier and growing economies including in South East Asia, which is putting pressure on the commodity sources and environment.

Enter insects, which Ducharne believes will help solve the world's food crisis.

"Many may see insects as a hazard or pests but these fantastic animals can feed the world's population. They are excellent sources of protein and essential nutrients. There is also a high biomass of insects - it is the largest population of animals on the planet," he highlights, quoting the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO)'s recent call to embrace a "bug diet" as proof of their potential as the food of the future.

"Another thing many don't realise is that insects are clean animals that can survive in the dirtiest natural environments. This gives them a strong capacity to handle bacteria," he adds.

To study the feasibility of producing insects on a big scale for sustainable protein source, Ducharne and two business partners from France conducted research and development (R&D) in Madagascar for almost two years.

"Previously, biotech industries focused on algae and single cell (bacteria) to solve the crisis. We focused our research on insect biology with the target of developing the means and technology for a mass insect production."

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