Insects face “silent extinction” due to habitat loss, climate change and pesticide use, which threatens about 75% of the world’s food crops because of their work as pollinators, while new studies show Aiming to make them one of the foods of the future due to their great nutritional value.
“This is a problem that has started to happen in recent years, some call it a ‘clean windshield’ because if you pay attention when you go out on the road, your car will no longer be filled with insects. There are studies that show that in protected areas We talk about a 70 to 90% reduction of insects,” Gustavo Zurita, a CONSET researcher at the Institute of Subtropical Biology (IBS) and a professor at the National University of Mizen, told Telam.
The latest studies on insect populations focus on those that fulfill the function of pollinators, as about 35% of invertebrate pollinators such as bees and butterflies are at risk of extinction worldwide, according to the United Nations.
The importance of pollinators lies in the fact that about 75% of the world’s food crops such as fruits, nuts and vegetables depend on them, as reported by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
“Loss of coverage of natural ecosystems, uncontrolled use of agrochemicals and veterinary products, and climate change are the main threats to populations,” Zurita said. Self.
Luis Fernando Fortich, a biologist and professor of entomology at the Argentine School of Naturalists, said that there is “a cultural issue” in the relationship between humans and insects.
“People naturally reject these animals because they are so far away from each other, they are not cats or dogs. There is a lot of ignorance about their impact on the environment, a lot of education is needed”, he stressed.
Along the same lines, Luciana Piron Capri, a biologist at the National University of Cordoba and a researcher at the Multidisciplinary Institute of Plant Biology, said that “there is a lot of fear and misinformation about the bug.”
“The strange thing is that of the millions of species of insects that exist, only 1% are harmful in some way to humans,” he stressed.
Fortich indicated that “the presence of insects on the planet was a successful model” because only 5% of all animal species are vertebrates and the remaining 95% are invertebrates. 90% of invertebrates are arthropods and 85% of arthropods are insects.
Fortich explained, “Larvae that serve as food for many groups of animals play an essential role in biodiversity in aquatic ecosystems, and are soil worms that help with the recycling of organic matter. ”
For Peirone Cappri, “there has to be a complete review of the food system” to help insect populations recover.
“We cannot take more habitat to produce food. Nor use toxic products without a socio-ecological approach. Advances, for example, in agronomy as a form of production adapted to the diversity of insects” , he assured.
“We have to maintain contact routes between crops where native vegetation that attracts a diversity of insects can be preserved, otherwise this loss phenomenon will continue to occur,” Fortich explained.
Peirone Cappri said that, on an individual level, actions can also be taken to help recover insect populations, such as having a garden with native plants.
“It is like building little shelters for insects. In this way we can also create a friendly bond with insects by observing them and learning about them”, he remarked.
Finally, insects are important not only for their contribution to biodiversity, but also for their nutritional contribution, with new studies indicating that they can be harnessed for human consumption.
This year, a research team from INTA and INTI made puddings, breads and pasta using 10 to 20% cricket powder and experts highlighted its high nutritional value due to its protein content.
Furthermore, a recent agency survey confirmed that more than 60% of consumers would accept the use of powdered insects as a culinary ingredient.