Ynsect, one of Europe's best funded insect farming startups, has announced EUR20M in backing from the European Commission. This is thought to be the first time the EU has supported insect farming at this scale.
Ynsect makes animal feed from mealworms, but insects have long been identified by the UN as a food source which has a lower environmental impact than conventional farming. Insects have a high-feed conversion efficiency rate (in terms of kg of feed per kg of weight gain) as compared to cattle, sheep and poultry and also require less water (6g of beef protein requires 100 gallons of water, whereas 650,000 litres of water would feed a family of four for a year in insect protein). With a world population expected to exceed 9.7 billion by 2050, there will not be enough arable land to support this growth. Insect farms may be part of the answer for cheaper and more sustainable protein, but we will need to get over the yuck factor first.
The European Union has made its first ever sizeable investment into an insect farming startup, in a sign that policymakers are finally taking seriously the concept of making insect-based protein at an industrial scale.