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Scientists Advocate Replacing Cattle With Insects 760

rhettb writes "Scientists in the Netherlands have discovered that insects produce significantly less greenhouse gas per kilogram of meat than cattle or pigs. Their study, published in the online journal PLoS, suggests that a move towards insect farming could result in a more sustainable — and affordable — form of meat production."


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Scientists Advocate Replacing Cattle With Insects

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  • More allergenic? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Monday January 10, 2011 @06:00AM (#34821082) Journal
    Would they be more allergenic though?

    I know more people who are allergic to arthropods than who are allergic to beef/chicken/pork.

    Not sure why this is so- maybe it's the exposure to dust mites?
    • Re:More allergenic? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Intrepid imaginaut ( 1970940 ) on Monday January 10, 2011 @06:11AM (#34821128)
      Plus we're not a million miles away from being able to culture meat in vats at this point, which need not produce any greenhouse gases at all if set up right. I know a lot of people in developing countries consume insects as a staple form of food, the squirm factor for western audiences would be quite high however. []
      • by samjam ( 256347 ) on Monday January 10, 2011 @06:16AM (#34821170) Homepage Journal

        Typical human selfishness trying to hog all the life on the planet.

        Surely it is more generous to let your protein have a chance at sentience before you eat it - and we must eat it to survive.

        I find it very nice that my protein (that I must eat) can walk around, be happy, find it's own food - even reproduce - before it is eaten.

        Condemning so much of the protein we consume to a life in a tank could perhaps be the most selfish thing we have deliberately done as a species.

        • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Monday January 10, 2011 @06:25AM (#34821232) Homepage Journal

          Eating is a selfish act. Pretty much all of life is a selfish competition.

          Either get over it, or take your argument to its logical conclusion and stop living.

          I hope you were just trolling.

          • by samjam ( 256347 )

            I hope the "scientist" was just trolling.

            But my point was to check the "green people" whose morals often seem un-bounded

      • Re:More allergenic? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Monday January 10, 2011 @07:29AM (#34821584)

        Growing meat is like nuclear fusion. The principles are extremely well-understood, but the implimentation is surprisingly tricky. (I've heard that one of the current issues is texture. Unexercised meat* supposedly isn't any more satisfying to the teeth than Quorn.) PETA's $1m prize for commercial vat chicken is probably perfectly safe, given the 2012 deadline.

        *Admittedly most food animals don't get a lot of exercise anyway, but it's still above zero.

        • Re:More allergenic? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Magada ( 741361 ) on Monday January 10, 2011 @08:12AM (#34821796) Journal

          I'm quite sure you could zap and/or stretch vat-grown muscle once in a while to get it in shape. It's being done to comatose patients, why not to bits of cow?

          • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Monday January 10, 2011 @08:19AM (#34821820)

            Yeah, that's the sort of thing they're thinking of doing. Exercise routines. I imagine that the whole thing would look rather horrific, we'll probably replace the whole "watching sausage get made" metaphor with something more general.

          • I'm quite sure you could zap and/or stretch vat-grown muscle once in a while to get it in shape. It's being done to comatose patients, why not to bits of cow?

            Probably could, but try doing all the things you need to do on an industrial scale while keeping it at least as cheap as using cattle.

            Considered as a machine for producing meat, cattle are pretty darn good. They take in low-cost and low-quality raw materials most of the time. They do their own exercising of the meat. They'll carry the meat where you

    • warm climates only (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nten ( 709128 ) on Monday January 10, 2011 @07:59AM (#34821726)

      They are more efficient partly because of their coldbloodedness according to the article. In places with sufficiently long growing seasons that won't be a problem. But you will have to transport the stuff to places with longer cold seasons, adding inefficiency. Cattle have built in warmers.

    • or lack of exposure to dustmites. According to the hygiene hypothesis, it may actually be our overly clean environment that is the cause of rising incidence of allergies in the most affluent parts of the world.

  • Or Ostrich (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Micah ( 278 ) on Monday January 10, 2011 @06:01AM (#34821086) Homepage Journal

    I've also heard it suggested that ostrich would be a pretty sustainable replacement.

    • Re:Or Ostrich (Score:5, Informative)

      by jadrian ( 1150317 ) on Monday January 10, 2011 @06:08AM (#34821116)

      Some say the same about kangaroos [].

      • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Monday January 10, 2011 @06:27AM (#34821248) Homepage Journal

        In the short term we also have to factor in the costs of making our fences fucking huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge

      • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Monday January 10, 2011 @08:34AM (#34821906)
        Sounds good now, but later we'll rue the day we switched.
        There's also the option of vertical farming. Not a good idea though. I'm sure it will all end in tiers.

        Back to to the insects. Sky prawns FTW!
  • The scientists here have managed to completely ignore one simple but important fact; no one has any good recipes for insect meat. With the meat being so far outside what's usually considered food, that could kill it. Even currying might not be enough to get people to eat this stuff.
  • Makes me even happier that I am a vegetarian.

    • Re:oh my (Score:4, Funny)

      by Stooshie ( 993666 ) on Monday January 10, 2011 @06:26AM (#34821242) Journal
      *smug*Makes me even happier that I am a vegetarian*smug*

      There, fixed that for ya!
      • *evenmoresmug*Makes me even happier that I am a vegan*evenmoresmug*

        However when I think of big mammals in factory farns eating mostly grain and soy which can use up to 20 times as much land, fuel and water as producing plant-based calories directly, not to mention that it involves massive amounts of antibiotics and ends up dumping lots of fecal waste in clean water, switching to insects does not seem so bad. Shrimp and lobster are pretty much underwater insects and people love to eat them. I'm sure if the

  • Like you get used to eating shrimps and crabs, you'd probably get used to eating all kind of insects as long as scientists growing them bigger...

    *Clicking on TFA and looking at the giant freaking COCKROACH*

    Ok, I take my words back. I'll never get used to it.
    • Crab.. I bought a tin of it a little while back to see if I like it now (didn't like it much as a kid).. I managed to finish it, but I felt like puking half the time. Just ate it because it would have been a waste of money otherwise, and protein is protein.

      • You should use some mayonnaise, fresh onion and bread. If you like you can add yoghurt, horseradish paste and some aromatic sea weeds. Out of can :( t is a success not to puke.
    • On the other hand, prawns are TASTY, so I hope they go more down that route :)

  • If only we could get over the gross factor.

    But then in large parts of the world, I know at least Africa and here in Asia I've also seen them, insects are part of the menu already. Often considered delicacies even. So they're definitely edible.

  • Eat Them! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NZheretic ( 23872 ) on Monday January 10, 2011 @06:20AM (#34821186) Homepage Journal
    "When man entered the genetics age, he opened the door to a new world. What we may eventually find in that new world, nobody can predict."

    Countdown to breeding larger insects for human consumption starts in ...

  • Isn't their cousine bad enough?

  • Instead of coming up with moronic stuff of this kind, hoping that people will start eating insects, start a vegetarian movement. At least that has some chances of getting implemented.
  • Everyday, our bright future looks more appealing.
  • Om nom nom (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bazman ( 4849 ) on Monday January 10, 2011 @06:27AM (#34821250) Journal

    In places where large clouds of flies congregate, such as Lake Malawi, the locals net millions of flies and compress them into little cakes. Handy protein packs. I'm sure they may have some nice recipes.

  • Hopefully there will be a lot of (good) jokes about the ability of the average consumer to "stomach" (ha ha) these critters.

    However "unappetizing" that prospect may be, why not give them to Fido or Socks? From what I've seen of dog/cat food, it is so heavily processesd, flavored and dyed that they, being unable to read the labels, may not be able to tell the difference. I don't know what other domesticated/farmed animals are fed animal protein (fish farms?) but the amount could be significant.

    Just trying

  • It would be quite interesting to know how succeptable insects are for infections if farmed. One of the problems with livestock is the prophelactic use of antibiotics. This has its effect on the symbiosis further down the chain. If insects could provide a untainted protein source, then it shouldn't be too bad. We eat prawns already, don't we?
  • In the west we continue to produce cattle and eat meat not because we need it , we could perfectly replace it with an array of protein from various source, we do it because we like the taste. And trust me on that one, some insect are not too bad grilled, some are downright disgusting, some are "neutral" , I tried about anything from spider to cricket, to various crawling and creeping stuff, and nothing, nothing can replace the texture and taste of my angus filet.
  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Monday January 10, 2011 @07:16AM (#34821508) Journal

    Last time I was in Thailand, I made a point of trying various fried insects, which is very common staple in South Thailand (not so much around Bangkok). I was surprised at how good they tasted. However, not at all comparable with meat. It's completely different but not worse, IMHO.

  • The rest of us will be eating healthy Ramen Noodles.

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Monday January 10, 2011 @07:31AM (#34821600)

    While it's true that poikilotherms have a far more efficient conversion ratio when it comes to food because they're not burning off all that energy just to maintain body temperature like hot blooded animals do, I am surprised that the first answer from these scientists is culturally unacceptable (well in most western cultures anyway) insects. I mean, what happened to fish? I'm sure that the difference in energy consumption between insects and fish is not all that great when compared to say a cow, sheep or pig. Basically what you feed is what you get in weight gain, it only takes around 1.2kg of food (in some species) to produce 1kg of muscle in fish. That's very efficient. Plus pretty much every culture in the world already eats fish.

    My only thought is that said scientists were worried about the huge water consumption of aquaculture. However they have completely failed to consider the up and coming field of aquaponics [] which is extremely water efficient (the only loss is evaporation). With aquaponics you also get delicious veggies with your protein - you have to; it's part of the system that cleans your water to keep your fish healthy. Hey but what do I know, I've only met the guy that invented it.

  • by Shag ( 3737 ) on Monday January 10, 2011 @08:29AM (#34821876)

    See, you only need to change one letter on the Chick-fil-A cows' signs.

    That was easy.

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