The wriggly beetle larvae known as mealworms could one day dominate supermarket shelves as a more sustainable alternative to chicken, beef, pork and milk, researchers in the Netherlands say.
Currently, livestock use about 70 percent of all farmland. In addition, the demand for animal protein continues to rise globally, and is expected to grow by up to 80 percent between 2012 and 2050.
The act of clearing land for livestock is one that damages the environments on which people and other life depend. For instance, it helps release global warming gases.
Conventional livestock take up so much in the way of environmental resources that some have long suggested that creatures lower down in the food chain — insects — might in theory provide just as much protein in a more environmentally friendly way. However, little data are available on the environmental impacts associated with insect production, said researcher Dennis Oonincx at Wageningen University in the Netherlands
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