Edible insects - Future prospects for food and feed security? Black Soldier Fly research issues

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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL): productive sanitation, faecal sludge management - and conference "Insects to feed the world"

I agree that there is a lot of potential in it, but with the sanitation sector mostly out of the picture (i.e. cheap feedstock that no-one else wants to use in a untreated fashion) there is going to be the question what to feed them. Agricultural waste is a commodity that has many uses, and BSF as an additional competitor will only drive prices up, potentially beyond the competitiveness with fishmeal or krillmeal. And on the other hand there is a drive (at least in salmon aquaculture) to go zero fishmeal by feeding especially modified soy oil/protein that can fully replace the former (and will likely be much cheaper in the long run).

You are right though that there might be a niche in landlocked countries like Uganda with some domestic aquaculture. However the profitability of it is very low, especially if you can't export due to EU regulations.
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  • joeturner
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Re: Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL): productive sanitation, faecal sludge management - and conference "Insects to feed the world"

JKMakowka wrote:
You are right though that there might be a niche in landlocked countries like Uganda with some domestic aquaculture. However the profitability of it is very low, especially if you can't export due to EU regulations.


I asked the representatives from the European Commission about that as well. They said that they had no jurisdiction as to how fish farmers in Africa feed their fish for export.

Again, I think the problem might be more to do with the supermarket buyers of fish being uncomfortable with the idea of the fish being fed something which would be illegal in the EU than with any actual legal problem.

I asked a few different people and got different answers about the legal situation, but I think that the answer from the EU representative is most likely to be correct.
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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL): productive sanitation, faecal sludge management - and conference "Insects to feed the world"

Ok, I understood it earlier that due to the BSD-cow issue they banned import of any meat that was fed with an animal based product except fishmeal.

Maybe I am cynical, but I doubt supermarkets will have an issue with it as long as it is cheaper and there is no large media campaign...
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  • joeturner
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Re: Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL): productive sanitation, faecal sludge management - and conference "Insects to feed the world"

That's right, the EU rules from BSE banned certain things from being fed to farm animals - which coincidentally includes insects.

But they have no impact on foreign imports. This is what the representative from the European Commission told me - the rules only apply to meat produced in the EU.

There is a big scandal in the UK at the moment about shrimp. The issue is not even with the shrimp itself but with the fishmeal which is being fed to the shrimp, which has been implicated in widespread slavery in Thailand.

At present there is no legislation which could prevent the import of Thai shrimp because of this issue, however there is a lot of consumer pressure on supermarkets.

If it was known that food was being sold in the EU which was fed with something banned in EU production, I think there would be a massive problem. I am not sure that the supermakets would take the risk.
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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL): productive sanitation, faecal sludge management - and conference "Insects to feed the world"

joeturner wrote: That's right, the EU rules from BSE banned certain things from being fed to farm animals - which coincidentally includes insects.
But they have no impact on foreign imports. This is what the representative from the European Commission told me - the rules only apply to meat produced in the EU.


I am surprised by this to be honest, as that would mean that for example imported Argentinian beef is not subject to regulations concerning BSE?

joeturner wrote: If it was known that food was being sold in the EU which was fed with something banned in EU production, I think there would be a massive problem. I am not sure that the supermakets would take the risk.


Given that the ban of insect based feeds is more or less an oversight in the regulations, I doubt that it would become an issue pushed by the media. Of course insects fed with fecal waste might be more attention worthy, but it is still not an "outrage" issue similar to slavery or something like that. But who knows what seems important to supermarket buyers...
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  • joeturner
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Re: Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL): productive sanitation, faecal sludge management - and conference "Insects to feed the world"

JKMakowka wrote:

joeturner wrote:
I am surprised by this to be honest, as that would mean that for example imported Argentinian beef is not subject to regulations concerning BSE?


I had not thought of that, but it appears to be the implication. I can only report what the European Commission representative told me when I asked him directly about this: namely that the EU only has juridiction to enforce these rules over EU grown meat. I suppose other rules may sometimes be put in place to prevent food imports from other places on health grounds, I have no information about that.

joeturner wrote:
Given that the ban of insect based feeds is more or less an oversight in the regulations, I doubt that it would become an issue pushed by the media. Of course insects fed with fecal waste might be more attention worthy, but it is still not an "outrage" issue similar to slavery or something like that. But who knows what seems important to supermarket buyers...


I think it is about the idea of eating fish which ate insects which ate human faeces. I don't know whether consumers would be bothered about that or not.

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Re: Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL): productive sanitation, faecal sludge management - and conference "Insects to feed the world"

There is a lot to be bothered about in animal meat production, but that does not mean people (want to) know about it, nor that it effects buying decisions by supermarkets.
My guess is that if human feces are only one amongst many other feedstocks for the insects, no one with the power to raise attention to it will care unless there is another reason like EU regulation.
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  • Emilio
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Re: Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) as a product from productive sanitation and for faecal sludge management

I want to add some information from experiments done in Yucatan Mexico, BSF larvae are good to degrade organic residues Kitchen waste, some excreta may be added to the bin and it will be degraded without problem, according to our preliminary results the BSF larvae diet has an influence in fat and protein content, the quality and quantity produced find better use in aquaculture or poulrty feed, in this sens it can be used by the small scale farmer, the serious draw back of using BSF as an alternative for sanitaton is that implies the manipulation of excreta. But there are plenty of other organic waste materials to produce BSF.

Other alternative I experienced is the proliferation of BSF larvae in a the drainage pipe of a toilet with a septic tank with no infiltration field, some 2 years after living in the house, BSF larvae started coming out from the drainage facilities, when I opened the register where the pipe turned, toilet paper had made a dam to stop excreta and lavae were consuming it, and then went to nature, in a low population density rural environment this could be part of the solution, without larvae recovery.

This takes me to the point that BSF larvae may be a tool to handle excreta, but without recovering the prepupae.

In my experiments, I have found that when BSF larvae have been feeding on a substrate and humidity goes byond a certain point ( water drips if squeezed), the substrate undergoes anaerobic decomposition and starts to produce unpleasant smell and atracts other fly species specialy from the callyphoridae family.
When BSF larvae are active the substrate temperature is 2 or 3 degrees C above the environment which denotes an aereobic process. Never the less if the substrate added is already colonised with other fly species both species can coexist. With certain wastes ( fish offall) the BSF larvae are displaced by other flyes, even when the container is covered with a fine screen.
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  • PeterHo
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Re: Black soldier fly for sanitation

Hi, other than BSF has your institute tested with other fly species which are found in tropical countries in the Asian region? Or do you know of any groups doing such studies in the Asian regions for animal wastes such as chicken or pig? I have interest especially for piggery waste as this is a issue in some farming areas for which direct agricultural use is not generally accepted due to local sensitivities.
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  • joeturner
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Re: Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) as a product from productive sanitation and for faecal sludge management

Hi Emilio, thank you for this report, very interesting.

Other alternative I experienced is the proliferation of BSF larvae in a the drainage pipe of a toilet with a septic tank with no infiltration field, some 2 years after living in the house, BSF larvae started coming out from the drainage facilities, when I opened the register where the pipe turned, toilet paper had made a dam to stop excreta and lavae were consuming it, and then went to nature, in a low population density rural environment this could be part of the solution, without larvae recovery.

This takes me to the point that BSF larvae may be a tool to handle excreta, but without recovering the prepupae.


I do not know enough about the life habits of the Black Soldier Fly, but I understood that the reason most are using larvae rather than adult forms was because of the risks of the insects spreading infectious disease. I understand what you have said about low population density, but one might think that enabling adult insects to fly away having fed on faecal waste might be a problem when they are so close to households.
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  • joeturner
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Re: Black soldier fly for sanitation

PeterHo wrote: Hi, other than BSF has your institute tested with other fly species which are found in tropical countries in the Asian region? Or do you know of any groups doing such studies in the Asian regions for animal wastes such as chicken or pig? I have interest especially for piggery waste as this is a issue in some farming areas for which direct agricultural use is not generally accepted due to local sensitivities.


Hi Peter, as discussed above the Proteinsect project is conducting studies into BSFL with partners in China in wastes to feed to chicken and pigs - www.proteinsect.eu

Most projects are looking at using either BSFL or the common housefly (Musca domestica) or yellow mealworms (although I am not sure how much research has been going on with feeding mealworms to chicken and pigs), I would be interested to hear of other groups working with other species.




You probably already know about the Wageningen University research on this topic - see www.wageningenur.nl/upload_mm/2/8/0/f267...b694f6_234247%5B1%5D

It also looks like the National Swine Research and Training Center, Saraburi, Thailand did some work on pigs - see

see agris.fao.org/openagris/search.do?recordID=TH9220489

It might be worth contacting them to see if they have any further results thaiagris.lib.ku.ac.th/eng/
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  • joeturner
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Re: Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL): productive sanitation, faecal sludge management - and conference "Insects to feed the world"

Ok I have found some other groups with more recent research:

Zhejiang University, PRC www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960852412006104

Zunyi Medical College, PRC en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTOTAL-AHNY201301068.htm

This paper is looking at using termites and earthworms (in Botswana) www.scopemed.org/?jft=25&ft=25-1345721420

There are likely others too.

Just as a note, these journals might not be the best quality, but that does not necessarily mean that the research is bad.
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