Do grasshoppers only eat grass? INSECTA 2019 gave the answer!

Do grasshoppers only eat grass? INSECTA 2019 gave the answer!

Do grasshoppers only eat grass? This was only one of the many interesting questions discussed and answered at the INSECTA 2019 conference. The international science gathering took place at the University of Potsdam near Berlin in Germany, in the impressive “Neuen Palais” (see Foto) of the World Heritage site of Sanssouci Park, September 5 – 6, 2019. It was (very well) organized by the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy (ATB) and the Pilot Pflanzenöltechnologie Magdeburg e. V. (PPM).

The international conference offered its visitors an overview of the state-of-the-art technology of insects for food, feed and non-food application, giving important insights related to value chains, food safety, automatization, sustainability issues, etc. Even the welfare of insects in breeding was covered, given that insects might feel pain. Professionals from research institutes as well as international organizations and enterprises were present.

One of the many interesting speakers was Timo BĂ€cker from the Cologne-based start-up “Swarm”, which produces protein bars containing cricket powder imported from Thailand. He told an exciting story about how his company entered the German retail market and is now present at 1,500 points of sale.

At night, the jungle landscape at “BiosphĂ€re Potsdam” with its many tropical plants and exotic animals formed the venue of the conference dinner. The ProciNut project presented two of in total 53 posters on the topics “Challenges and Opportunities for Insect Rearing in Myanmar” (Sarah Nischalke et al.), “Promoting insect production and consumption in the central highlands of Madagascar” (Jochen DĂŒrr et al.). In addition, a ProciNut team member gave one of the 54 oral presentations on “Research in Myanmar’s Edible Insect Sector: Rapid knowledge growth as Myanmar emerges” (David Allan et al.).

Getting back to the question put in the headline: Forkwa Fombong from Leuven University explained that cannibalism between grasshoppers is common, which has posed an obstacle to rearing these insects so far. However, it can be significantly reduced by offering them not only grass, but other insects to feed on. Which may be, as I would add, also not ethical if insects can feel pain

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