When do we start caring about insect welfare?

Tina Klobučar , David Fisher* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The world is facing an incoming global protein shortage due to existing malnutrition and further rapid increases in population size. It will however be difficult to greatly expand traditional methods of protein production such as cattle, chicken and pig farming, due to space limitations and environmental costs such as deforestation. As a result, alternative sources of protein that require less space and fewer resources, such as insects and other invertebrates, are being sought. The Neotropics are a key area of focus given the widespread prevalence of entomophagy and developing animal welfare regulations. Unlike vertebrate livestock however, insect “minilivestock” are typically not protected by existing animal welfare regulations. This is despite the fact that the evidence is mounting that insects possess “personalities”, may experience affective states analogous to emotions and feel something like pain. In this forum article, we highlight this discrepancy, outline some of the emerging research on the topic and identify areas for future research. There are various empirical and ethical questions that must be addressed urgently while insect farming is ramped up around the globe. Finally, we describe the benefits and also potential costs of regulation for insect welfare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-10
Number of pages6
JournalNeotropical Entomology
Volume52
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jan 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023

Keywords

  • Entomophagy
  • Insect farming
  • Insect sentience
  • Insect welfare
  • Minilivestock

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