Eläinten oikeudet koskevat myös hyönteisiä: Nämä asiat on otettava huomioon

Ihmiset ovat tekopyhiä eläinoikeuskysymyksen edessä. Kotieläimiä rakastetaan ja niiden hyvinvointiin laitetaan paljon aikaa ja rahaa koska ne ovat söpöjä ja ne pystyvät osoittamaan kiintymystä. Villit rotat ja käärmeet eivät saa meiltä samanlaista kohtelua, saati sitten torakat, hämähäkit tai jauhomadot.

Tämä lähtökohta tulee ymmärtää kun pohdimme laajamittaista hyönteisten kasvatusta. Tulevaisuuden hyönteisfarmit eivät välttämättä tarjoa enää eettistä ympäristöä hyönteisille, mutta onko siitä meille mitään merkitystä?

Keskustelu hyönteiskasvatuksen eettisyydestä on alkanut myös Suomessa ja keskustelu pyörii paljon hyönteisten kognitiivisten kykyjen ympärillä; kuinka paljon ne ymmärtävät ympäristöstään ja kuinka paljon ne tuntevat kipua.

Tutkimukset aiheesta eivät pysty antamaan suoraa vastausta: Toisaalla on osoitettu että toukat pyrkivät pakoon kuumaa sädettä, toisaalla on nähty kuinka hyönteinen jatkaa ruokailua vaikka sitä itseään syötäisiin.

Oli vastaus kipukysymykseen mikä tahansa, on muistettava että vapaus kivusta on vain yksi niistä viidestä vapaudesta, joihin myös Suomen eläinsuojelulainsäädäntö perustuu. Myös esimerkiksi vapaus normaaliin käyttäytymiseen sekä vapaus nälästä ja janosta ovat asioita jotka tulee ehdottomasti myös hyönteisille tarjota.

Eläinten hyvinvointi hyönteiskasvattamoissa

Laajamittainen hyönteisten kasvattaminen on uusi teollisuuden ala, joka tulee kasvamaan huomattavasti tulevina vuosina.

Suomessa kasvua juuri nyt kiihdyttää Eviran marraskuinen päätös avata markkinat hyönteisperäisiä raaka-aineita sisältäville tuotteille. Hyönteisiä kasvatetaan laajamittaisesti ruoaksi, mutta myös eläinrehuksi erityisesti kalankasvattamoille.

Maailmalla tunnetaan yli 2000 ruoaksi kelpaavaa hyönteislajia, mutta hyönteisteollisuus on keskittynyt vahvasti vain muutamaan lajiin jotka ovat: Jauhomato (Tenebrio molitor) mustasotilaskärpänen (Hermetia illucens) ja kotisirkka (Acheta domesticus).

Hyönteisiä markkinoidaan ympäristöystävällisenä proteiininlähteena ja vaihtoehtona perinteisille lihatuotteille. On selvää että lehmään, possuun tai broileriin verrattuna hyönteiset kuluttavat huomattavasti vähemmän tilaa, rehua ja vettä, mutta asia johon ei ole selkeää vastausta on hyönteiskasvatuksen eettisyys.

Eläinten hyvinvointia lähestytään kysymällä toteutuvatko seuraavat viisi asiaa:

  • Vapaus nälästä ja janosta

  • Vapaus epämukavuudesta

  • Vapaus kivusta, vammoista ja sairauksista

  • Vapaus normaaliin käyttäytymiseen

  • Vapaus pelosta ja kärsimyksestä

Peruslähtökohta sille, miksi perinteisillä eläinfarmeilla nämä vapaudet eivät toteudu on, että on halvempaa jättää ne toteuttamatta. Luonnottomat ja stressaavat ympäristöt vaikuttavat tuotantotehokkuuteen jossain määrin, mutta käytäntö on näyttänyt, että on edullisempaa jättää nämä asiat huomiotta.

Hyönteisfarmeilla on tilanne on erilainen. Vielä kun hyönteiskasvatus teknologiat ja alan tietotaito ovat alkutekijöissään, on taloudellisesti kannattavaa tarjota hyönteisille kaikki viisi vapautta.

Mitä enemmän luonnollista ympäristöä kasvattamo muistuttaa, sitä terveempinä hyönteiset pysyvät, sitä enemmän ne tuottavat munia ja kasvavat nopeammin. Toisin kuin lehmiä ja muita yleisesti kasvattettua eläimiä, hyönteisiä ei voi rokottaa ja lääkkeitäkin on todella vähän tarjolla. Tämä johtuu siitä että tarvetta hyönteislääkkeille ei ole aikaisemmin laajamittaisesti ollut. Hyönteistautien tutkijoita löytyy maailmasta kourallinen, hyönteislääkäreitä sitäkin vähemmän.

Vaikka yleisesti ottaen hyönteisfarmit tarjoavat eettisen ympäristön, muutama poikkeus löytyy.

Jauhomatoja voidaan estää siirtymästä seuraavaan metamorfoosin vaiheeseen hormooneja käyttämällä joka johtaa eläimen kasvamisen matovaiheessa luonnottoman isoksi. Tätä käytäntöä on käytetty kun jauhomatoja kasvatetaan lemmikkieläimille, mutta ainakaan vielä ei ole tiedossa että vastaavaa käytettäisiin ihmisruoan tai eläinrehun tuottamiseen.

Toinen poikkeus on aikuisvaiheen hyönteispopulaation sukupuolijakauman monipulointi. Jotta mahdollisimman tehokas munien tuottaminen saavutetaan, voidaan uroksien lukumäärää vähentää, jolloin urokset keskittyvät keskinäisen kanssakäymmisen sijaan naaraisiin.

Asia jota lainsäädäntö ei ole huomioinut on tiettyjen hyönteislajien tapa muodostaa yhteisöjä joiden yksilöt eivät pysty elämään itsenäisesti. Tälläisiin lajeihin kuuluvat esimerkiksi termiitit, joiden kekoa voidaan kutsua superorganismiksi.

Jos otamme superorganismista osan pois ruoaksi niin, että se jää elämää terveellisesti, tulisiko toimenpide vertautua enemmänkin lampaan kerimiseen kuin lampaan tappamiseen?

Hyönteiset kiertotalouden osana

Hyönteisruoan moraalisen kysymykset voidaan tiivistää seuraavasti: Onko oikein syödä hyönteisiä ja muita eläimiä? Jos ei, niin voidaanko hyönteisten syöminen sallia jos se on ympäristöystävällisempää kuin kasviperäiset tuotteet?

Tarkasti valvotuissa oloissa hyönteisiä voidaan ainakin teoriassa kasvattaa sivu- ja biojätevirroilla.

Biojätteellä kasvatetun hyönteisen hiilijalanjälki on jopa kasviksia pienempi. Kun rehusta ei synny muuta kuin käsittelyyn liittyviä päästöjä, ainoat ympäristöön vaikuttavat toiminnot ovat peruskäyttöhyödykkeet farmilla, pakkaus ja kuljetus.

Kun taas katsomme esimerkiksi soijan kasvatuksen eettisiä kysymyksiä, tulee kasvissyöjän kysyä, tulisiko hänen valita biojätteellä kasvatettu hyönteinen soijan sijaan.

Miten Suomessa opitaan syömään hyönteisiä?

Hyönteisten syönti on useammalle suomalaiselle vieras asia, johon on vaikea suhtautua. Asiaan perehtyneetkään ihmiset eivät tiedä tuntevatko hyönteiset kipua, eivätkä kasvatusteknologiat ole vielä vakiintuneet vielä niin, että näkisimme miten hyönteisiä tullaan kasvattamaan.

Totuttautumisen aiheeseen voi aloittaa ottamalla lasin appelsiinimehua tai pari palaa suklaata: vaikka tuotteiden raaka-aineet käsitellään ennen tuotteiden valmistusta, molemmat sisältävät enemmän tai vähemmän hyönteisten osia ja munia.

Yhdysvaltojen viranomaiset ovat julkaiseet rajat, joiden mukaan 100 grammassa suklaata saa olla maksimissaan 60 hyönteisen jätöstä. Sitrusmehuihin sallitaan myös kokonaisia hyönteisiä ja niiden munia.

Jouluna Suomessa syömme reilusti suklaata ja mandariineja. Pidetään ne hyönteisten munat mielessä, ja annetaan näiden tuotteiden toimia porttina uusien ajatusten sisäänajoon!

ilkka-heinäsirkka

Lisätietoa aiheesta voi lukea seuraavista lähteistä:

“A Bug’s Life”- raportti: http://venik.nl/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Rapport-Large-scale-insect-rearing-in-relation-to-animal-welfare.pdf

Blogi: “Miksi en kannata hyönteisten syöntiä: http://reducing-suffering.org/why-i-dont-support-eating-insects/.

Biojätteen rehukäytön ongelmallisuus: https://ilkkataponen.com/2015/08/20/using-bio-waste-as-feed-for-farmed-insects/

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How We Changed the Legal Environment of Our Startups

The 20th of September 2017 big news came out: Evira, the Finnish FDA, changed its interpretation of certain EU-level regulations to allow the sale of insect products for human food and for animal feed in Finland. Before the change all insect products sold for human consumption were banned and there were serious restrictions on insect feed for farmed animals. This change means end for years long waiting period and the Finnish Insect for Food and Feed (IFF) companies have been able to start selling full speed.

The legal environment is one the risks that every company must consider carefully in their business plan regardless the industry they are operating in. In general, hostile legal environment is seen as a big minus and something that is difficult to change, especially in short term.

No matter how unlikely and how difficult it was considered to be, the Finnish IFF- startups were able to lobby the authorities to change their viewpoint and open the markets. Similar changes are expected all over the Western world, but Finland changed it’s interpretation now sooner than others.

How exactly the Finnish startups spurred the change and how can you do the same in your home country and your industry?

Positive Relationship with Media

The hype around rearing insects for food and feed started around 2011 when FAO started to promote insects as sustainable choice over conventional animal protein sources. The media attention reached Finland as well and since has been featured multiple times in all major media platforms. Finnish start-ups started to emerge some years after 2011 and since they have featured the articles and news regularly as well.

The IFF- industry is quite unique in many ways and this is one of the major reasons why media has covered so much of it nationally, but all the startups have been not only accepting invites for public speaking and giving interviews, but also reaching out for reporters. What has been great to notice in many occasions I have been asked to cover for other players in the industry to cover for them for e.g public speaking if there has been a double booking. This tells of shared understanding that raising public’s understanding and awareness is very important, even if the publicity points goes to the neighbor company.  For emerging industries many times the competition are not the companies doing similar things than you, but the companies you coming to steal the market from. This essential idea is widely spread in the small Finnish industry and now we all share the fruits of co-operation.

Make Regulators Work for You

Some years ago I had discussion with Entocube, one of the Finnish startups. I criticized their approach to bring to marked end user products, even though their main business the insect farming technology had at that point many open questions. Now looking back Entocube’s vision to raise awareness about their company and industry by their clever “kitchen decoration products” (insect food was banned) was very unselfish and brave, but also the right thing to do. By pushing the limits of the regulating bodies and sparking even more discussion with their products in media gave the initiative for Evira to start looking seriously on their approach on the topic.

sirkkapurkki

Above is picture of the Cricket Jar- kitchen decoration jar. Not for consumption! A great way to raise awareness and push the limits. This product forced the regulatory body to react. 

We did not have common plan or organization

What was not done is equally important with what was done. Finnish companies have not formed registered association, but what we have shared so far is a common goal and modern perception of markets. Also, it is worth noticing that there are no Finnish members in the global association of IFF-companies IPIFF.

To me this tells that organic communication from different entities was at least in this case the key to build up political pressure that lead to this change. Could it be that when the communication is natural and organic instead of designed and always politically correct it is something that interest media and the big audience more?

Three learning points

Every country and every regulation is different, but I see that there are three points to learn from this case.

  • Raise public’s awareness. This is the first step for people to start accepting the idea of something new and to introduce more wide pressure for the public sector to start thinking of the current policies.
  • Force the regulating bodies to react. Especially in a field that was never been though of carefully by the law makers by pushing the boundaries you force them to draw the lines for the first time. What is most important here is that the decisions must be justified. If there is clear lack of regulation, the wheels will start to move within the public sector.
  • Co-operation of the industry. It is essential that the companies operating in the field do not fall into the trap of thinking that they are each others enemies. Even though they are working in the same field, the growth in nascent markets is gained from the growing market, not by winning market share from competition. When the common goals are understood by the industry players they can work together and achieve bigger targets that they could ever done alone.

Finnish IFF-industry in 2017:

Imitators, Replacements and Clean Meat

There is no questioning that people are eating too much meat and high meat consumption leads to enormous problems globally. While there is growing interest in sustainable alternatives, it seems that the substitute products widely available in the market today are not attractive enough to quickly bring down meat consumption. Multiple new food industry branches are growing to answer the demand. One of the future branches that has gathered a lot of media attention during the past few years is insects. Even though insects are exciting and clearly better protein source than conventional meat, for me it has become clear that insect do not hold the highest market potential nor are they the best ecological solution when comparing to the other new alternatives. You can read my earlier blogs here and here for my reasoning.

The top three options to replace the modern meat industry are Plant Based Meat Imitators, Plant Based Meat Replacements and Clean Meat. Plant Based Meat Imitators are products that are 100% plant based, but aim to resemble meat as much as possible. Plant Based Meat Replacements are products that resemble meat’s nutritional content, in particular the high-protein level.

These three categories have a lot in common. They all aim to replace conventional meat in human diets with same sales arguments: All are more sustainable, ethical and healthier choices over meat.

To better understand the differences between the categories I made a simple Pugh-matrix. In the matrix the weight is the multiplier that tells of the importance of that factor. The multiplier can have value between 1 and 5. The value that each factor gets is selected between -3 and +3. The higher the total number the better. Further I categorized the factors (the lines) into three parts:

  1. Slow Changing Factors. Marketing is the only line here.
  2. Changing Factors. Regulation and Production Cost.
  3. Unchangeable Factors. Ethics and Nutritional Factors.

The categories are rough and they could be named or categorized in many different ways, but I chose these ones the serve this quick look to the topic. The numbers in this matrix are based on my personal evaluation.

Marketing means how difficult it is to introduce this category to the markets. Conventional meat would get a high score because people are used to it and it has been accepted to be part of weekly diet. I gave marketing clearly the biggest weight because in the end facts have little to do with our food choices, there are countless examples of this.

Regulation is the law environment that either allows or restricts operating in the markets. Production costs is self explanatory. These two factors are given small weight because they will not be a deciding factor of the fate of the different industries. The two will either slow it down or help on the way. Also, regulations and especially the production costs can be changed for the better relatively quickly if there is significant market demand. Production cost is the part that is the most difficult to evaluate and the one that keeps on changing the most.

Nutritional facts and Ethics form the “Unchangeable Factors” line. Ethics are a nice plus, but have the least impact of all the factors on the overall score. Nutritional facts are the core of the product on which the marketing is based on. I was thinking hard between giving the nutritional facts 2 or 3, but in ended up to 3 because I wanted to give it more weight than production cost and regulation.

The Matrix

Capture25.7

 

Before analyzing this one, lets jump to the future where there are no regulatory barriers and production costs of clean meat have decreased significantly:

Capture25.7future

The differences are not very significant, especially in the case where regulatory factors are not considered and clean meat production cost has decreased significantly. It is hard to make a clear conclusion other than that the Plant Based Meat Imitators- category will flourish only until Clean Meat technology advantages enough. Yes, the Imitators will get better imitating as well but it cannot escape its fundamental issue that is visualized in the line Nutritional facts and health. No matter if Imitators would become 99% like the real thing, there are always some trade-offs when aiming for the imitation and this we will see in the raw material choices, amounts of additives, sugars, fats and salt. Also, having (unnecessarily) complex product increases the production costs.

Conclusion

When looking at the remaining top two categories we see that the total score is almost the same, but that the score is coming from different factors. The main question is what is more difficult, introducing new products to people’s regular diet or bringing down the cost of producing clean meat at scale? Answering this will tell you which of the categories holds more potential.

If we should decide what people should eat based on science, we would give them a plant based diet including Plant Based Meat Replacements. But when we are talking about food that has strong cultural connections we must consider the bigger picture. The only reason why Clean Meat and Plant Based Meat Imitators are on the same line is not the product itself, but people’s associations to them.

 

Nothing is more important than AI

Most of us are familiar with the concept that it is better to fix the cause than the effect. This idea is at the core of the Lean Manufacturing concept, created by Taiichi Ohno and Toyota, and of the Lean Start-up movement started by Eric Ries.

Even though we’re aware of this principle, we very often end up doing the opposite. It is natural to just fix the effect, as it is faster and the results are easier to see. Yet in the long run you lose time and money with this method, because, with the root cause unfixed, the same effect will occur.

The future of technology holds amazing sci-fi -like tools. Nano technology, bio engineering, genetics, robotics, space-travel and so on. But the only tool that can help us fight the root cause of poor productivity and resource wasting is development of Artificial Intelligence, AI. All the listed technological advantages aim to increase the efficiency of human activities, but the difference is that AI is the only one that can help us understand which activities are worth doing in the first place, and how to do them in the most efficient way. For example, while robotics help us do things in high efficiency, maybe that activity was not needed at all in the first place. In other words, while AI can give us the GPS coordinates to our destination and map to follow, robotics can only make us move incredibly fast, and us humans decide on the direction in which we want to move. My example of robotics comes from physical production, but the same idea applies also for product design, marketing, HR and so on.

Our world is not lacking food, physical resources or talent. Yet we are wasting all of these in staggering amounts daily, especially human talent. We need improvement in use of the world’s resources, and for this AI is the most important technology.

The significance of AI has been recognized widely, and all major technology companies are involved in developing ways to improve the technology and offer multiple ways to implement it to our lives. Even though the benefits of AI management tools are clear, strong incentives exist in the modern global market to fight against the “AI manager”.

AI management tools would steer companies toward long-term, sustainable growth, but the contemporary stock exchange and market place encourages to seek short-term profits. Since investors want to see short-term value increase in the companies they invest in, the managements they name have incentives to sacrifice long term plans over short-term ones. This is obviously nothing new, but every time AI takes a step forward, the decision to act against facts will have a higher opportunity cost. Eventually this cost will be so high that it cannot be ignored, but the sooner we can bring AI into decision-making, the better. And since we are fighting issues like global warming and other ecological disasters, there really is no time to waste.

Fighting against better solutions sounds counter-intuitive, but the world is full of similar examples where existing structures prevent obvious improvements from taking over. Why do they still have separate taps for hot and cold water in the UK? Why do Phillips-head screws still exist when we have Torx screws? Why don’t all cars come with Run Flat tyres? The Run Flat tyres, the PAX system, is especially interesting. The PAX solution offers better safety and flexibility for the customer, the technology was shared with multiple tyre and car manufacturers, and market studies show that the demand is there, but still we are not using it. The answer lies in co-adaptation and co-innovation risks. When there is some external entity in the supply chain that is not benefiting of the improvement, they will not be active in taking it into use, or, even worse, they might fight against the change. This theory and the PAX system example is presented in Ron Adner’s book The Wide Lens.

Technology is advancing faster day by day. AI management tools will be the most significant of all upcoming advances because they will make all other advancement faster. Improving the technology and creating applications for it is not enough, as there are obstacles to solve before AI is widely taken into use. Finding ways to smooth the path for AI to enter our world is the second most important task we face now, right after AI itself. And these two tasks will be the last ones us humans will have to do on our own.

There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker

Further reading:

Lean Startup:  http://theleanstartup.com/

The Wide Lens: http://thewidelensbook.com/

The PAX- system: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelin_PAX_System

Deep Knowledge Ventures, the first company to appoint AI to its board of directors: http://www.deepknowledgeventures.com/

aurinko

 

Industry Insights, Interview with Ilkka Taponen

The interview below was done by International Insect Centre and published in their newsletter in May 2017.

After completing an internship at Ynsect involving his thesis paper titled Supply Chain Risk Management in Entomology Farms Case: High scale production of human food and animal feed, Ilkka developed a keen interest in the insect industry, setting up a blog dedicated to developments in this sector. Combined, the success of his blog as well as his activities in market potential projects for insect products has given Ilkka significant insights into the current market for insects, especially in scaling up production in the novel foods sector. He is now employed at Green & Gold Foods based in Finland, developing alternative protein products for the consumer markets.

Speaking about the growing interest in the insect sector, Ilkka explains that since news of new EU regulations has been clarified, interest in this business has greatly increased. “Last summer there was a real lack of contact on the blog, but since November I have received a lot more emails from interested persons, possibly because news of EU regulation [regarding insects in feed and food] has become clearer”, explaining that this could’ve rejuvenated interest in the sector.

However, although growth seems to be positive, Ilkka explains that the role that insects will play in the future is a little more obscure; “It is hard to say; some companies are working on feed whilst others say that there is no sense in this, with food being the main goal. Considering that these are often companies with significant resources behind them, they are approaching this business very differently so it is impossible to say who is right and who is wrong.” Having worked both in the insect protein sector and the plant-based protein sector, Ilkka points out that insects must compete with plant-based alternatives and that this may result in them having more potential for feed applications than food based. “For example, one place in which insects are clearly the best option is in animal feed. However, taking salmon farming as an example, the demand for the quantities that are needed to enter the market are huge, whilst the profit margins are very low. It’s a difficult combination.” Ilkka explains that economies of scale will be needed in order to bring the cost of insect-based feeds down. “Increasing the scale and automating the process is key, but it’s difficult to say how long it will take for the costs of fish raised on insect feed to meet the price of conventional products.”

Another factor that is also involved in the development of the insect sector is risk. According to Ilkka, due to the novelty nature of insects as an ingredient in both feed and food, many companies are reluctant to carry out R&D using them due to the risks that this can entail. This is further amplified by the current lack of insect suppliers; “this makes it very risk intensive for companies to introduce insect ingredients because suppliers end up with all of the [negotiation] power.” Continuing, Ilkka points out that there also needs to be research into the end consumers that would be interested in buying sustainably raised fish fed on insects. “Who is going to buy these products? Generally, the people that would be interested in buying these products will most likely choose a plant-based alternative.” Ilkka explains that therefore, fish fed on insects cannot be sold based on this value added sustainability aspect alone. This suggests that in order to be viable, insect fed fish must become the ‘norm’ and not a speciality product. “The fish farmer has to pay 5% extra [to use insects], as do their clients, having a knock-on effect down the supply chain. The real question is; are consumers willing to pay for this?”

However, with regards to feed production in particular, insects have one major benefit over many non-fishmeal alternatives; they are live animals. This makes them suitable for feeds aimed at carnivorous and omnivorous animals, an advantage that plant-based alternatives cannot compete with, according to Ilkka. “I think that this is the key that will determine the future. This is one of the only places where using animals [for feed] is very advantageous; for feeding other animals. In this situation, insects are most definitely the most sustainable choice.”

Continuing on the subject of sustainability, Ilkka clarifies his thoughts on insect proteins. “We must also take plant-based proteins into consideration, especially when looking into feed conversion rates. As I have said, insects are the best option for animal-protein based feed, but for food purposes, plant based proteins offer the same benefits but in a more culturally acceptable and cheaper way at this moment.” Despite this, Ilkka remains positive that there will be significant growth within the sector for edible insects, however compared to alternatives, it is uncertain whether they will be able to compete long term. As for the animal feed sector, Ilkka expects that insects will play an important role in the market with regards to the future of sustainable animal feed, beginning in the aquaculture sector.

Thank you IIC and Poppy Eyre for putting my thoughts nicely into text! Visit IIC at http://www.insectcentre.com/

Impossible Foods Must Ask Harder Scientific Questions

Techcrunch posted a very interesting interview on 22nd of May 2017, titled “Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown says VCs need to ask harder scientific questions”. After reading the article, I had to check that I wasn’t reading The Onion.

In the interview, Pat Brown attacks the clean meat industry and VCs with claims that were all proven untrue in a great reply by VC Seth Bannon. The aggressive tone of the interview did not bother me as much as the lack of knowledge shown by Mr Brown. Yes, answering the question “Why not try clean meat?” by saying “The simple answer is because that is one of the stupidest ideas ever expressed” already makes you sound like Donald Trump, but when you back up your claim with untrue statements, things start to look very bad.

Mr Bannon did good job at answering the false claims, but I will continue by looking at two additional points of the interview.

Mr Brown said that with clean meat technology, “you buy into, at best, the same limitations that a cow has.” This statement is very interesting when looking at Impossible Foods’ product. The company is trying to mimic meat as much as possible using plant based raw materials. Isn’t this approach buying into the limitations of the cow? It’s possible the company is looking to go beyond meat at some point, but to an outsider it seems that the product development’s main goal is not to make the best tasting or the best nutritional value having product, but a product that looks, tastes and feels like cow. Yes, the way Impossible Foods are aiming to do it is more efficient and ecological cow rearing, but they share the same goal with the clean meat companies.

The second thing that especially struck my eye was Mr Brown’s demand that VCs should ask harder scientific questions to understand e.g. that clean meat “is one of the stupidest ideas ever expressed”. While demanding deeper studying and understanding from VCs, Mr Brown himself obviously has limited understanding of substitute technologies that his own company is using.

I think the founder has more tendency to have skewed view on his or her business than the outsider. Maybe it is actually Impossible Foods and Mr Brown who need to ask the harder scientific questions?

ps. While you are here you might want to read my related post 5 Questions an Investor Should Ask Before Investing into a Insect Farm from June 2015.

Cricket Is Just a Better Chicken

One of the main arguments insect food companies bring out in their communication is comparing the environmental impact of  insects to conventional meats like beef, pork, fish and chicken. There is no denying that insects are clearly the best choice from this group, but in most cases comparing insects to other animals is not relevant.

paras

The example picture above is from LEAP Pure Cricket Powder- Facebook page. 

The most relevant category to place insects is not “the environmental impact of animal based foods”, but wider “environmental impact of high protein foods” that includes a large variety of plant based foods as well.

In this more relevant category, whether the comparison is about consumption of water, creation of green house gases or feed conversion rate, crickets show up just as a better chicken. From environment’s perspective best options are plant based options like pulses and plant based protein products. Additionally, plant based proteins clear out of many other issues like ethical questions related to animal farming, use of antibiotics and cultural acceptance.

It is important to understand that we are now talking about industrial scale farming where using of bio waste as insect feed is not possible for multiple reasons. For low scale farming where using of bio waste is possible insects are excellent option even over plants.

You might have noticed that in the given infograph it is said that insect consume less water than pulses. This might be true, but it depends on how the water is delivered to crickets. Is it open water or through feed? When comparing the water consumption of animals the combined impact of drinking water and the water used in the farming of the feed should be considered.

There are plenty of reasons to eat insects, but if you are looking for the best environmental choice, industrially farmed insects are not the one.

Further reading: