Crop Biotech Update

Experts Explore on Using Engineered Insect Tissue as Food Source

June 13, 2019

Livestock farming poses environmental harm such as land and water degradation, biodiversity loss, and climate change. Tufts University suggests a toolbox of potential solutions to address this problem. The popular options include shifting to plant-based diets, insect farming, lab-grown meat, and genetically modified animals. In an article in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, Natalie Rubio of Tufts University explains why lab-grown insect meat-fed on GM products for maximum growth, nutrition, and flavor, could be the best green alternative for high volume, nutritious food production.

"Compared to cultured mammalian, avian and other vertebrate cells, insect cell cultures require fewer resources and less energy-intensive environmental control, as they have lower glucose requirements and can thrive in a wider range of temperature, pH, oxygen and osmolarity conditions," Rubio explains.

Since regular contraction is necessary for cultured insect muscle to develop a meaty texture, an efficient method called optogenetic engineering may be used. This technique makes cells contract in response to light through introduction of a new gene.

Read the complete article in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems for more details.