Insect Decline

London, 22 May 2019

TODAY marks the United Nations’ 2019 International Day for Biological Diversity – launched under the theme “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health”. At AgriProtein, we understand biodiversity as the bedrock of healthy food systems, human existence and the wellbeing of planet Earth. Our focus, however, is firmly rooted in the protection and promotion of insects.

The word biodiversity invokes images of rare and exotic animals roaming vast and undisturbed plains, schools of colourful fish in deep blue oceans, or rows of lush green trees in enchanting rainforests. Rarely does the word conjure up thoughts of insects who do little to convey the same majesty in most people’s imaginations. Human aversion to insects is clear – from how we refer to them as ‘creepy crawlies’ or ‘bugs’ to the longstanding and disproportionate focus of research funding on ‘pest control’.

Not all insects suffer the same fate. Butterflies and bees are well-researched, and their population declines well-documented. Numerous worldwide support programmes exist to halt their decline and extinction. One of the legacies of underfunded entomological research is a lack of comprehensive, meaningful, long-term and comparable data on wider insect populations. As a result, the rate at which many insect populations are declining is not well understood. This lack of awareness is alarming – as we at AgriProtein understand the intrinsic importance of insects to the survival of our planet.

Insects are part of a natural and clever system of checks and balances – from the foundation of complex food webs to their recycling activities – insects have the power to influence entire landscapes. An immense range of flying species – not just bees – are vital plant pollinators; those that crawl aerate and help our soils retain water; those with stronger stomachs are essential recyclers of the ecosystem – breaking down less savoury waste such as dung and dead animals. It is because of their unique but little understood role that we believe insects should be core to our thinking on biodiversity. Whilst millions of insect species remain to be formally identified, their importance to the ecosystem is abundantly clear. A relatively small percentage loss in insect biodiversity could result in disproportionately large consequences.

Working with several species of insects for close to a decade, most notably the humble fly, has highlighted to us the importance of looking beyond the large endangered animal species. Insects are abundant and often taken for granted yet can provide important lessons about the endurance and success of existing ecosystems. It is through these lessons that the insect community hope to continue to harness the power of these remarkable creatures to address some of the most pressing environmental issues facing the world today. AgriProtein harnesses at industrial scale, the natural lifecycle of the black soldier fly to upcycle nutrients from organic waste streams.

In doing this we are making a small contribution to this years’ International Day for Biodiversity theme: celebrating biodiversity to create a more sustainable solution for our food and our planet that ultimately positively impacts our health.

Read more about what we do here – www.agriprotein.com – and discover how we harness nature to directly reduce landfill and produce cleaner alternatives for a happier and more biodiverse planet.