Sun, Jan 20, 2019 - Page 9 News List

Farming insects may solve one problem but create others, scientists warn
養殖昆蟲當糧食?科學家警告:問題重重

Visitors at a stand offering insect burgers next to a poster reading “I am not a hamburger — I am the famous insect burger” during the opening day of the International Green Week IGW (Internationale Gruene Woche) fair in Berlin, Germany, on Jan. 19 last year.
去年一月十九日,在德國柏林舉辦的國際綠色週農業展開幕日當天,參觀者站在一個攤位旁,旁邊的海報寫著:「我不是漢堡──我是有名的蟲蟲堡」。

Photo: EPA
照片:歐新社

Insects have great potential as an alternative source of protein, but further research is urgently needed before mass production begins in order to avoid environment disaster, Swedish researchers warned Monday.

There is currently an “overwhelming lack of knowledge” on basic questions such as suitable species, housing and feed requirements, waste management and how to ensure escaping insects do not wreak havoc on the ecosystem, they said. Unless such issues are studied and discussed in a critical manner, “we risk creating an industry that replaces one environmental problem with another,” they wrote in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution.

Globally, growing demand for animal protein has led to expanded cultivation of soybeans to feed livestock and poultry, but critics say the system is unsustainable and leads to deforestation and overuse of farm chemicals. Nutritionists and scientists have been touting insects as a sustainable and cheap source of protein to feed a growing world because they are high in protein, vitamins, fiber and minerals.

Insects emit fewer greenhouse gases and less ammonia than cattle or pigs and require significantly less land and water than cattle, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). More than 1,900 species of insects are edible, according to the FAO. Businesses are already jumping into the sector, producing burgers made of buffalo worms, sweet potato soup made with bugs, grubs as pet food and DIY insect farms.

However, “the future environmental impact of the mass rearing of insects is largely unknown,” said the Swedish scientists. “How do you produce the feed they eat, where do you produce it, what do you use? There are so many questions,” said Asa Berggren, a conservation biologist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and the paper’s co-author. “Are we going to use fossil fuels for heating and cooling the facilities (where insects are grown)? What about transportation?” she said to the Thomson Reuters Foundation via phone.

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“One of the biggest threats to both natural systems and production systems the world over is invasive species. What happens if insects are accidentally released in a country to which they are imported? Insects are tiny and they get out,” Berggren said. “We don’t believe it’s good enough to just switch from some species to another,” she said.

Other outstanding questions include whether reared insects who fall sick risk transmitting diseases to consumers, how their waste is disposed of and how animal welfare should be measured in insects, the researchers said. Further research is also important, Berggren said, because “there could be a lot of insects that could be very good for us to eat but no one knows because no one has looked at that.”

(Reuters)

昆蟲雖然具有極大潛力作為蛋白質的替代來源,不過數名瑞典科學家於週一提出警告,指出大量生產昆蟲開始前亟需進一步研究,以免造成環境浩劫。

科學家表示,目前人類對許多基本問題,例如適合的種類、飼養環境與飼料需求、處理排遺、確保逃脫昆蟲不會造成生態系大亂等面向,都「極度地缺乏相關知識」。在期刊《生態學及演化學趨勢》中,他們寫到,除非這類議題受到批判性的研究和討論,否則「我們恐怕會創造出一個用新的環境問題取代舊問題的產業。」

隨著全球對動物性蛋白質的需求持續成長,導致餵養家畜和家禽所需的大豆種植面積不斷擴張。不少論者指出,這樣的生態系統將無法永續發展,還會造成森林砍伐和過度使用農業化學物質等問題。近年來,營養學者和不少科學家開始宣揚昆蟲可作為蛋白質來源,既能夠永續發展又價格便宜,足以餵養人口不斷成長的世界,因為昆蟲含有大量的蛋白質、維生素、纖維和礦物質。

根據聯合國糧食及農業組織的資料顯示,昆蟲排放的溫室氣體和氨氣比起牛或豬隻還來得少,需要的土地面積和水更比牛少非常多。根據該組織的資料,可食用的昆蟲超過一千九百種。許多公司已投入該產業,包括用水牛蠕蟲做出漢堡、將蟲蟲加入地瓜濃湯,或是將蠐螬(金龜子幼蟲)當成寵物食品,以及自製昆蟲養殖場等商品。

不過,幾位瑞典科學家卻指出:「大量飼養昆蟲在未來引起的環境衝擊仍然是巨大的未知數。」瑞典農業科學大學的保育生物學家阿薩‧柏格倫是該研究的共同作者,她表示:「人類要如何、在哪裡、用什麼製造餵昆蟲的飼料呢?有太多問題需要解答。」在接受湯森路透基金會的電訪中,柏格倫問到:「我們要用石油燃料來幫(飼養昆蟲的)設備加溫和冷卻嗎?還有運送問題要怎麼辦?」

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