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Editorial - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Actions needed before insects can contribute to a real closed-loop circular economy in the EU

Lalander, C.; Vinneras, B.


Insects are the waste managers of nature and could play a vital role in closing the loop of nutrients from society back into the food industry and thereby reduce the environmental impact of our food production system, as is the aim of EU's Farm to Fork strategy. Insects can be used to convert biodegradable waste into their own biomass that can be used as food or in animal feed, thus linking waste management to food production. However, food safety regulations prevent the use of around 70% of available food waste in the EU as rearing substrate for insects. To tap into the true environmental benefits of insects as an alternative protein source, they have to be reared on mixed food waste. The main reason for the food safety regulation is the outbreak of Mad Cow disease (BSE) in the 1980s, caused by prions (misfolded proteins). The circular system that gave rise to Mad Cow disease is the most closed loop system possible. Using insects in waste management to convert bio-waste into animal feed does not entail such a closed loop system, but rather introduces an extra barrier to disease transmission. In order to fully tap into the benefits of insects as an alternative protein source, it is crucial that funds are allocated to determine whether prions are truly a risk in a circular insect food production system.


animal feed; circular food production; European Green Deal; food safety; prions

Published in

Journal of insects as food and feed
2022, Volume: 8, number: 4, pages: 337-342