Over the last few decades, the agricultural landscape has been deeply transformed to meet the growing global demand, leading to environmental and social negative impacts. 40 years after the launch of The European Organic Label, organic farming is recognized by the FAO as a much needed “part of the solution to address the global challenges that food production faces”. Accelerating our transition to a sustainable food system is also at the heart of the European Farm to Fork strategy, which aims at reaching 25% of lands under organic farming by 2030. An ambitious target as today only 8.5% of agricultural lands in Europe are organic (Eurostat).
The availability of organic feed ingredients is today one of the bottlenecks for the growth of organic farming in Europe. Insect ingredients (both oil and protein) offer a much-needed solution, driven by the rise of the insect sector over the past two years.
“Insects are at the heart of everything organic farming stands for: naturality, sustainability and strengthening of local agricultural ecosystems. Reintroducing insects in pig, poultry or fish feed is based on the biomimicry principle: insects are part of their natural diet. In the wild, a trout eats up to 70% insects! The zero waste and circular model of insect farming ensures insects are both a performant and sustainable resource for both plants and animal growth” says Chloé Phan Van Phi, Head of Sales and Marketing at InnovaFeed.
NATURLAND DEFINES THE FIRST SET OF ORGANIC GUIDELINES FOR INSECT REARING
Created 6 years before the European Organic Standards, German Private Organic Label Naturland is an organic farming pioneer. Convinced by the potential of insect ingredients for organic farming, Naturland took the lead in adapting the European Organic Standards to insect farming, including following requirements:
- Primarily organic vegetable by-products and residual materials from agro-industries processing are to be used. The use of products that are in direct competition with human or animal nutrition is to be avoided. Naturland certified insect producers need to follow a priority list and can feed their insects after approval with non-organic by-products, if and only if they can demonstrate there is no sufficient organic by-products available locally;
- these non-organic by-products must comply with a set of strict requirements including a complete ban on pesticides, heavy metals, GMO and be locally sourced
- Required space per animal - a concept central to most organic farming specifications but which does not apply to insects which live on top of one another. In fact, requiring a minimum space per insect would be against their welfare and could eventually kill them.
- Strict standards have been set to guarantee the highest level of insect welfare as defined in “Brambell’s Five Freedoms”, formulated by the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC, 2009) including a ban on the use of hormones, a strict monitoring of temperature, humidity and oxygen levels.
“We believe the insect industry has an important role to play in supporting the growth of the EU organic agriculture and farming, in particular with regards to improving animal nutrition and reinforcing organic aquaculture, two of the key areas outlined in the “Action Plan for the Development of the Organic Sector” released by the European Commission today. To realize the potential of the insect industry for organic farming, the EU needs to define clear and adapted organic standards for insects.” declares Clément Ray, InnovaFeed’s cofounder. “With such European standards and up to 500kT of insect protein expected to be produced by 2030, this is an additional 5MT of organic fish, poultry or swine that could be produced in Europe.”