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Posted by on Dec 24, 2012 in Curiosities, Science |

Worms, a protein source that could replace meat or chicken

Worms, a protein source that could replace meat or chicken

A team of scientists recently found that mealworms, Tenebrio molitor’s and king (Zophobas morio), could be the sustenance of the future with the potential to replace or chicken as a protein source in Earth.

The study, published in PLoS ONE, indicates that eating mealworms and king worm larvae are an environmentally friendly alternative to clear farm animals. The reason: require less land and produce fewer greenhouse gases per kilogram of protein produced.

To do this, the researchers compared the environmental impact of meat production and worms using three parameters: land use, energy requirements and emissions of greenhouse gases. The result was that the worms produced more edible protein than traditional farms chicken, pork, beef or milk, for the same amount of land used.

According to scientists at the University of Wageningen, more than two thirds of the world’s agricultural land is being used as a house, breeding and animal feed. A process that would also be responsible for approximately 15% of dangerous greenhouse gases produced by humans.

Many scientists say that the world needs to “eat” more plants to combat raw meat and the effects on the environment. The new study suggests that eating insects might be a good way to get animal protein, avoiding the effects of livestock development.

And it would not be the first time. Although most associate with worms as a food source for reptiles, fish or poultry, the fact is that the insect is available for human consumption lyophilized, canned or alive. There are recipes for cooking hedges insects as food high in protein.

For the study, the worms were treated with a diet of carrots and beans mixed and kept in a climate controlled environment. The result of the study showed that insects were a more sustainable source of protein than chicken, milk, pork or beef. According to the researchers, the production of one kilogram of protein worms took less than a tenth of the land that is needed to do the same with beef. Furthermore, mealworms created only 2.7 kilograms of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. According to the scientists:

As our planet’s population continues to grow, and the amount of land on earth is limited, you need a more efficient and sustainable food production. Now, for the first time, it has been shown that mealworms, and possibly other edible insects, can help in achieving this system. Further improvement of the production system in the mealworm, the selection of automation, power optimization or genetic strain is expected to increase productivity and reduce environmental impact.

A study that follows in the wake of the 2010 study. A report by scientists at the University of Wageningen indicating that five different species of insects were much more environmentally friendly than conventional meat farming.

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