Born in 2017, the project led by the Avignon-based start-up Biomimetic consists in optimizing the breeding of black soldier flies to produce fertilizers and animal feed.
In a laboratory in Tours, scientists take eggs laid by these flies, place them on a food support made of fodder and follow their growth until they are harvested as raw material, they are then 2.5cm long.
Faced with the scarcity of resources, insect breeding is considered as an ecological way to ensure food security according to the FAO. The objective of the Research Institute of Insect Biology of Tours (IRBI) is to develop the ideal conditions of light, temperature, humidity, density and nutrition to obtain a high yield breeding.
Known as entomophagy, the consumption of insects by man concerns two billion individuals but the cultural obstacle exists, among Europeans for example. The nutritional balance sheet nevertheless pleads in its favour: insects provide protein, amino acids, mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids and micronutrients.
It is not a question of inventing the aperitif insect, but rather of proposing this source of protein as a substitute for meat, by incorporating it into steaks. Since 2017, Essento has been marketing a steak based on flour worms, rice and vegetables.
An important advantage of insect farming is its ability to convert animal feed into body mass: one kilogram of insects produced requires only two kilos of feed compared to five kilos for pork.
The work carried out by several laboratories including AgroParisTech, INRA, CEA, CNRS… along with the companies Ynsect and IPV Food, shows that insect meal consumes fewer resources than fish meal but produces more GHGs and takes up more surface area.
It is necessary to improve the efficiency of insect farming through greater automation. The rearing cycle is short with frequent monitoring of environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity…
But the sector is recent and does not yet control the risks linked to intensive breeding. The Dutch company Kreca has experienced in its cricket breeding, a viral epidemic that decimated the population in about ten hours.
Cultures, animals or insects, intensive breeding tends to homogenize individuals in a situation of promiscuity and facilitates the spread of epidemics. In addition, all animal husbandry must also comply with animal welfare principles, a challenge insofar as studies focus mainly on vertebrates. However, scientists have already observed cannibalistic behavior in insects subjected to great promiscuity.
The lack of knowledge about insects and the inexperience of intensive animal husbandry therefore still holds surprises for scientists and actors in this emerging sector.
Source : Le Monde