Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Insects

23 June 2020

This report from the European Commission’s Science for Environment Policy describes the importance of pollinators (such as bees, flies and moths) for food production and for nature. It identifies several drivers of pollinator loss and sets out methods of monitoring pollinator populations.

29 April 2020

According to this article in Quartz Africa, a new wave of desert locust swarms is forming in East Africa (including Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia). Wet conditions mean that the locusts are likely to continue to breed. It is feared that many farmers could lose their newly planted crops. Efforts to control the swarms through aerial spraying have been slowed by the coronavirus crisis.

31 March 2020

This paper, co-authored by FCRN member Christian Reynolds, discusses public engagement at the authors’ ‘Take a Bite Out of Climate Change’ stand, which used infographics, short games and displays of vertical farming and insect-based foods to encourage discussion about the climate impacts of food production.

10 March 2020

This paper reviews initiatives for conserving insects and argues that they must be expanded globally to protect insect populations. It also argues that the value of insects to society must be better communicated to people, e.g. through focusing on the benefits of iconic insect species or particular landscapes. 

28 January 2020

This book reviews research on the development of biopesticides, including those based on microbes, natural substances and pheromones.

19 November 2019

This report, commissioned by the Wildlife Trusts (a group of UK charities), summarises existing evidence on declines in insects, many types of which have substantially decreased in abundance since 1970 (see for example Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers). It also explores the drivers of these declines and calls for an urgent halt to “all routine and unnecessary use of pesticides”.

29 April 2019

This paper explores the possibility of producing food by growing insect cells in the laboratory using cell culture techniques. It suggests that it may be easier to overcome certain technical challenges to cell culture by using insect cells rather than (say) beef, pork or chicken cells.

1 April 2019

This paper provides an assessment of the environmental impacts of converting waste streams from the food industry into products such as fertiliser, pet food, livestock feed or feed additives using the larvae of Hermetia illucens, the black soldier fly.

1 April 2019

This paper shows that pollinator services in agricultural landscapes that have been highly altered from their natural state are lower than would be predicted from a simple count of pollinator species. The paper bases its estimates on a study of the evolutionary relationships between pollinators and extensive surveys of pollinators.

12 March 2019

This study surveys declining pollinator populations and the threat to agricultural production this poses at a time when (the paper argues) higher yields and farm efficiencies are needed. It outlines how woody habitats such as trees and hedgerows can be used on agricultural land to aid conservation of pollinators.

19 February 2019

Over 40% of insect species are at risk of extinction over the next few decades and 75% to 98% of insect biomass has already been lost, according to this review of the current state of knowledge about insect declines, with habitat loss through conversion to intensive agriculture being the main driver. Agro-chemical pollutants, invasive species and climate change are also driving insect declines.

18 February 2019

Students at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have created a machine learning algorithm to automatically count Varroa mites in beehives. The algorithm could help beekeepers monitor bee health more quickly and accurately.

4 February 2019

This paper explores attitudes towards eating insects, based on a online survey of Finnish consumers. It finds that both vegetarians and omnivores are more likely than vegans to consider eating food made from insects.

19 November 2018

UK supermarket Sainsbury’s has started selling edible insects in 250 of its stores, becoming the first UK supermarket to do so. The barbecue-flavour roasted crickets are made by Eat Grub and contain 68 grams of protein per 100 grams of dried crickets. Eat Grub founder Shami Radia told Sky News, “We're on a mission to show the West that as well as having very strong sustainability and environmental credentials, they are also seriously tasty and shouldn't be overlooked as a great snack or recipe ingredient.”

12 November 2018

Israeli startup Taranis has raised $20 million in funding for its aerial imaging technology, which uses multispectral images from satellites, planes and drones to scan fields. Artificial intelligence then identifies threats such as insects, crop disease, weeds and nutrient deficiencies. The company claims its technology can increase crop yields by up to 7.5%.

22 October 2018

Losses of wheat, rice and maize to insects could increase by 10 to 25% per degree Celsius of climate warming, according to this paper. This is due to two main factors: insects have faster metabolisms at higher temperatures and therefore need to eat more; and insect population growth rates will also change with temperature.

2 October 2018

The common weed killer glyphosate targets an enzyme only found in plants and microorganisms. However, a new paper finds that glyphosate can harm honey bees even though they lack the targeted enzyme. Glyphosate does this by changing the balance of microorganisms (some of which contain the relevant enzyme) found in the bees’ guts, making the bees more susceptible to infections.

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