Worldwide interest in the art of turning insects into food, known as “entomophagy,” is growing.
Earlier this month, University of Georgia entomologist and global entomophagy advocate Marianne Shockley met with entomophagy experts from around the world at the second Insects to Feed the World conference in Wuhan, China.
Shockley currently serves on the board of directors of the North American Coalition for Insect Agriculture (NACIA). This conference marked the first time that members from NACIA met with their counterparts from other international entomophagy groups, including the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF), the Asian Food and Feed Insect Association (AFFIA), and the Insect Protein Association of Australia (IPAA).
More than 300 participants from 40 countries converged in Wuhan from May 15-18 to discuss a road map for developing a robust, sustainable insect agriculture industry. Her trip was funded in part by a $2,000 faculty travel award provided by the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Office of Global Programs.
In addition to sharing research on the benefits and practicalities of considering insects a food source, the group began setting guidelines for industrial hygiene practices, grower certification, consumer and producer education, and the development of food standards for insects as part of the “Codex Alimentarius,” the book of internationally recognized food standards maintained by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
“I am pleased to have seen the initial round table facilitated here in China. It is an important step for the industry on a global level that will ensure we are moving forward positively and cohesively together, to a stronger insect industry for the future,” said Heinrich Katz, IPIFF treasurer and executive committee member.
Those at the round table set up a plan of work to tackle each facet of the framework set forward by this fledgling agricultural industry.
Shockley, who has presented on the ecological and nutritional benefits of insects at many national and international conferences, will focus her efforts on consumer and producer education, she said.
“Education is a global priority for insect farming and insect consumption,” Shockley said. “Delivering positive messages and information about insects to the public is vital to moving the industry forward in a positive way. We look forward to further collaboration and development of media, education and training kits to promote insects as food and feed.”
For more information about contributions by the UGA CAES Department of Entomology to the global conversation on insect agriculture, visit www.caes.uga.edu/departments/entomology.html. For more information about NACIA and Shockley’s role in the organization, visit www.edibleinsectcoalition.org.
Shockley will help to host NACIA’s national conference in Athens, Georgia, later this summer. The Eating Insects Athens 2018 Conference will be held at the UGA Center for Continuing Education & Hotel from Aug. 13-15. More information is at www.eatinginsectsathens.org.
(Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
A UGA student shows off his mealworm chocolate chip cookie at the UGA Insect Zoo in April 2010.Download Image
UGA entomologist, in the red dress, participated in a roundtable discussion on the future of insect agriculture at the second “Insects to Feed the World” conference in Wuhan, China.Download Image