Insect farming: our three biggest concerns with the rapidly growing sector


Insect farming: our three biggest concerns with the rapidly growing sector

16 November 2023
Did you know that several insects are authorised for farming in Europe? Insect farms are on the rise in the EU, and the growth of the sector has been rapid, with trillions of insects set to be farmed by 2030. Not only is insect welfare not being taken into account as this sector explodes, but the industry could have a major impact on intensive livestock farming as a whole.

Insect farming is not being widely talked about by key decision-makers at EU level, but it should be. 

Research into the welfare of insects is scarce compared to other vertebrates, but the science so far reveals they are sentient beings, with a range of feelings and needs.

Further, research into insect farming shows the growing sector could have a big impact on the planet if allowed to proceed at its current growth rate, without policies in place to manage it. 

Our three key concerns:

Insects are sentient beings

Insects are sentient beings that can feel pain, experience emotion, socialise, play, and much more. Like with any other animal, they should therefore have their welfare needs protected - however, no EU policies to this end are currently in place, leaving trillions of insects open to suffering in the coming years.

This must change - and policymakers could start by developing measures to improve insect diets on factory farms. Our report uses the latest research to make recommendations.

Insect farming is risky

Due to its fast growth, industrial insect farming poses several threats to the environment and other animals, especially by:

  • Facilitating the spread of pathogens
  • Possibly disrupting ecosystems
  • Using GMO to increase productivity on farms, the consequences of which are so far unknown.

This could lead to major issues for animal welfare, public health and the planet - making it even more critical that this expanding sector is closely monitored and regulated as soon as possible.

Insect farming could hinder progress towards sustainable food systems

Most of the insects currently being farmed in the EU are to produce feed for other factory farmed animals.

This means that insect farming is actually supporting the wider livestock farming industry, which evidence overwhelmingly shows has significant negative impacts, including to our food systems.

To foster more sustainable and secure food systems in Europe, the livestock farming industry must be scaled down, with more plant-based diets becoming the norm across Europe. Farming insects for animal feed is clearly not the way forward. 

The future of insect farming is in the EU’s hands

With so many potential problems surfacing from the insect farming industry, it’s critical the European Commission starts paying attention to its growth and developing policies with animal welfare and sustainability at their heart. Without these measures, the insect farming sector could be a major threat to Europe’s food and farming sectors.

Insect farming and sustainable food systems: the precautionary principle

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