[UK, Global] Farm animals could be fed on insects and algae, potentially preventing significant amounts of deforestation and water and energy waste, according to environmental campaigners.
“We’re a bit squeamish about eating insects in the UK,” said WWF’s food policy manager Duncan Williamson at the Extinction and Livestock conference in London. “But we can feed them to our animals. We are going to need animal feed for the foreseeable future, but algae and insects are an alternative to the current system.”
Growing and capturing feed for industrially farmed animals – soy, maize, fish – is an inefficient use of the world’s resources, according to a WWF report released for the conference. According to scientist Katherine Richardson, one of 15 experts commissioned by the UN to report on their sustainability goals, we have now broken through four out of nine of the planetary boundaries defined as a precondition to sustainable development “because of agriculture”.
Many corporations believe the public don’t care or know about the problem with feed, said Williamson. “I have lost count of the times I have gone to companies who have said our customers don’t care about feed – it’s so far from what they’re eating. They don’t care about the impacts on biodiversity – they think the fields of England are biodiverse.” But, he pointed out, “the intensive system has a global impact on biodiversity … it’s the number one cause of biodiversity loss.”
Using insects and algae for animal feed would require far less land and resources. One company, Entocycle, makes feed of black soldier flies fed on waste food, while algae can be grown in far smaller areas to a comparative amount of soy and is nutritionally superior.
Work on alternative materials for feeds has been happening for a number of years now, according to Kate Wolfenden of Project X, a WWF offshoot, and alternative feeds are still significantly more expensive than grains and soys and not yet at the volumes required to shift entire industries. But the market is now maturing, and Project X’s Feed-X programme aims to enable 10% of the global industry to be able to commit to procuring alternative sustainable feeds, at scale, by 2020.
But the truth is that a transformation of the entire food system will be necessary, says Richardson. “We are living what might be the most exciting time of human history – a time of great transition,” she told the conference, pointing out that there have been times in the past when we have realised that we are going to have to create rules for dealing with our waste at local, regional and national levels. “We, as a society, are now recognising that we need to manage our resources at the global level.”
Philip Lymbery, the head of Compassion in World Farming, one of the organisers of the conference, had called earlier for a UN convention on food and farming. “Our intention is that this conference will be the start of a global conversation. Scientists warn we are facing a mass extinction event not seen since the dinosaurs. Much of the current biodiversity loss is driven by the way we produce food.”
The conference was partly, he said, held to celebrate the 50th birthday of CIWF. “We do not intend to celebrate our 100th. We intend to end factory farming long before that comes.”
Photo: A farmer feeds a cow with a GM food supplement. Photograph: Cultura Creative (RF)/Alamy
View original article at: Farm animals can eat insects and algae to prevent deforestation