back to article United Nations: 'Overpopulated Earth? Time to EAT BUGS'

World population is slated to top nine billion by 2050, and seeing as how arable land is being rapidly swallowed by towns and cities, oceans are increasingly overfished, and climate change is disrupting traditional farming, a new United Nations study proposes a twist on Marie Antoinette's dietary advice: let them eat bugs. " …


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  1. RonWheeler


    ..start treating breeders like the ignorant selfish people that they are rather than congratulating them on another nail in the planet's coffin.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Or...

      Congratulations on making the UN not seem like the crazies, no mean feat.

      1. RonWheeler
        Thumb Up

        Re: Or...

        Quite right. The overpopulation problem doesn't exist and people ignoring facts aren't stupid and selfish after all. My mistake.

        1. Aaron Em

          Re: Or...

          An unhealthy interest in the reproductive habits of others is the hallmark of the eugenicist, be he avowed or otherwise. As such, does it not concern you that Western societies in general already reproduce below replacement rate? Evidently not, to judge your invective on the subject in its context. To reiterate and expand upon another commenter's well-made point: congratulations on making the social engineers behind this report look good in comparison! While their beliefs are no less abhorrent than yours, at least they manage a certain degree of consistency.

          1. RonWheeler
            Thumb Up

            Re: Or...

            Get ye to the pulpit sirrah with thy fine invective!

          2. madestjohn

            Re: Or...

            This idea that western societies are dieing out due to low reproduction is total satistical voodoo.

            First let have a reasonable sample size of more than a couple of generations, you can take a couple of data points on a graph and declare a clear trend, so lets say since the 1950s..

            Are there less people in any european country than in 1950?

            I can't think of one, .. nope can't so lets say In the vast majority of cases no.

            But oh, .. This is due to immigration you say, so while they're might be more people in germany than in 1950s allot of them are turks, and the germans don't like to acknowledge the turks, but this is bull as well as there's emigration as well.

            Are they less people of germans descent world wide than there was in 1950? well no, and this stands for italians and greeks and the irish and scandinavians and even the basque. ... There is not a single major western national or ethenic group that hasn't increased it population base since the 1950s.

            Yes ... Some areas in europe have a declining birth rate of the traditional population who stay there .. Why? Cause in allota places in europe there isn't much reason to start a family as pretty much all the land and allot of the jobs are already taken, ... So people move, and then have babies, or wait til thier grandparents or parents die and then have babies, .. Or just hang arround, ... And then have babies... Theirs an awful lot of europeans in the world, ... And that number has not been going down.

        2. Duffy Moon

          Re: Or...

          I assume that governments encourage overpopulation because it means cheaper labour.

          On the news today, I hear reports of some ludicrous number of homes which need to be built over the next few decades - a lot of them on land occupied by various endangered species. This cannot go on indefinitely. It makes the world a less pleasant place.

          Tie a knot in it, fellas.

    2. Graham Marsden

      @RonWheeler - Re: Or...

      "The overpopulation problem doesn't exist".

      Of course it does, but you appear to be offering the solution of eliminating the breeders by some form or other instead of *educating* people which history has shown to be an effective way to be the way to reduce reproduction rates.

      1. RonWheeler

        Re: @RonWheeler - Or...

        'you appear to be offering the solution of eliminating the breeders by some form or other'

        No I wasn't. Go build another straw man.

        1. Aaron Em

          Re: @RonWheeler - Or...

          Ron Wheeler: 'Ye' is an extremely archaic form of the second-person plural nominative, identical in meaning to modern "you all" or "y'all"; your use of it here is just plain wrong. 'Sirrah' constitutes a direct insult, or would do were I to assume any actual knowledge of the word on your part, which assumption would clearly be erroneous. 'Thy' is an archaic, highly informal version of the second-person singular possessive; it is today commonly found only among ignorant Renaissance Faire types and Quakers of the "plain speech" ilk, of whom the less said the better. Your implication of religious faith on my part, while accurate, fails to sustain the implicit obloquy with which you strive to invest it.

          Permit me humbly to suggest, as one who is a somewhat accomplished prose-stylist to one who is not, that you bone up on the forms in question, before further befouling yourself in public with their profligate abuse; as an acceptable second best, you might at least confine yourself to addressing the substance of my statement, rather than committing another embarrassment along the line of your most recent effort. Should you find yourself capable of neither task, you would be well advised, if rather unlikely, to conform your behavior to Switzer's maxim.

          To address what I will, solely for the sake of discussion, dignify as your response to Marsden: You absolutely do suggest the elimination of what you so charmingly call "breeders". That you do not, yet, suggest they be punished with fire and the sword for procreating, but rather merely ostracized and shunned for their notional ignorance and selfishness, does not in any way preclude the suggestion that they be suppressed by more positive means. Speaking with an eye to history, something else which I suspect you lack, "mere" ostracism tends rarely to remain so; a belief as uncompromising as yours, after all, is unlikely in the extreme to find itself capable of, much less satisfied with, "out of sight, out of mind".

          Graham Marsden: You imply causation where none is known to exist; at most, it has been demonstrated that, among some cohorts in some societies, women who have further advanced their education will tend to have fewer children. The strength and generality of this correlation remain, at least to my knowledge, uncertain in the extreme, to say nothing of whether any causal mechanism has been demonstrated; while I'll grant my lack of specific interest in the field might have betrayed me in the former question, I very much doubt an answer exists for anything remotely resembling the latter.

          As you demonstrate yourself a eugenicist of the same stripe as our common interlocutor, may I pose you the same question I did him? Perhaps you'll offer the meaningful answer he couldn't. As one who feels himself qualified to render an opinion on the relative value of whole societies' sexual behavior, does it not concern you that Western societies already reproduce well below replacement rate? Your preferred means of population control -- that is, positive eugenics through the increased availability of higher education, something applicable only to societies sufficiently affluent to consider such increase -- suggests not, which inspires a certain curiosity on my part, as to the basis of your evident wish further to dis-privilege the world's most advanced and capable societies in the reproductive stakes. Have I perhaps mistaken you? If so, I eagerly await correction; if not, I likewise await satisfaction.

          1. Graham Marsden

            @Aaron Em - Re: @RonWheeler - Or...

            I almost missed your remarks to me since they were below the "expand comment" and it was only that I happened to spot my surname (why only my surname "Em"?) that caused me to read the rest of your post after a lot of tedious and irrelevant pontification about the use of English.

            In any case, in response to your remark "You imply causation where none is known to exist", a simple search on the "relationship between education and birth rate" would have shown you that causation is most certainly known to exist, for instance: "A women's educational level is the best predictor of how many children she will have, according to a new study from the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study, based on an analysis of 1994 birth certificates, found a direct relationship between years of education and birth rates, with the highest birth rates among women with the lowest educational attainment."


            (There are plenty more references below that one, too.)

            As for your claim that I am a eugenecist of *any* type, let alone that of RonWheeler, you show yourself to be equally lacking in knowledge on this subject.

            Eugenics, from the Greek word eu (good or well) and the suffix -genēs (born), stems from a desire to "improve" the human race either by weeding out the "unfit" or encouraging the "best" to reproduce, neither of which I have supported, do support or ever will support.

            Reducing the birth rate by improving education has *nothing* to do with Eugenics and if you think that increased education is only available to affluent societies or that it is some how "dis-privilegeing" societies you simply demonstrate even more ignorance of the subjects under discussion.

            Ironically it was RonWheeler who accused *me* of using Straw Man arguments...

            1. Aaron Miller

              Re: @Aaron Em - @RonWheeler - Or...

              Mr. Marsden: Your point regarding my use of names is well taken, and I have remedied the laxness in which it originated. Unfortunately, in every other point under consideration, your analysis leaves everything to be desired.

              You don't merely confuse correlation with causation; you fail to recognize them as distinct entities, an error not evident in the paper you cite, and which I am therefore forced to assume originates in sloppy habits of thought on your part. You are several hundred years too late to get away with pre-Copernicanism, sir; I urge you to update your understanding of science.

              You further attempt argumentum ad solum radicem to deflect my charge of eugenicist belief on your part, despite your having blithely assumed the existence of an ideal human breeding habit, on your way to a flat declaration that you know the means of accomplishing same; if I am culpable of any error in that regard, it is in classing you a eugenicist rather than a dysgenicist, clarification of which question I sought to elicit by the response at which you see fit to sneer.

              Then, of course, you accuse me not merely of ignorance, but of argumentum ad effigiem. While our past disputations have left me with a rather low opinion of your intellectual acuity, they lie far enough behind us that I had hoped better of you now. I must say, sir, you have done masterfully well in frustrating that hope, if sadly in no other regard.

              1. Graham Marsden

                @Aaron Miller - Re: @Aaron Em - @RonWheeler - Or...

                Am I supposed to be impressed by more of your pontification? Let alone your arguments ad hominem?

                You accuse me of confusion, but that confusion only exists because of the completely erroneous assumptions you make all through your diatribe, assigning motivations and beliefs to me that I do not hold and have never held.

                You claim I fail to recognise the difference between correlation and causation, yet a look back through my posts in El Reg would reveal that this something which I have often commented upon, so how can I get it right all those times, yet suddenly get it wrong now? Or perhaps the error is not mine.

                Equally, the assumption of "an ideal human breeding habit" is yours, not mine. I have not said, nor would I that this is "ideal", merely that it is better than the situation that exists where poor education standards are shown to correlate with higher birth rates.

                And, yes, I most certainly do, with entire validity, accuse you of using Straw Man arguments. Perhaps you would care to now actually address the points I make, rather than the ones you wish to think I have made?

                Or would you prefer to simply attempt to denigrate my intelligence whilst actually revealing your own failings in this area? If so, I'll leave the last word to you.

        2. Graham Marsden

          Re: @RonWheeler - Or...

          "No I wasn't. Go build another straw man."

          A Straw Man argument involves exaggerating or misrepresenting someone else's argument. Since your entire argument so far appears to be "start treating breeders like the ignorant selfish people that they are" without any more details, there isn't anything there *to* misrepresent other than a vague statement, hence why I expressed an opinion about what *appears* to be your position.

          If you would actually care to clarify your statement instead of just accusing others of "ignoring facts", it might help me to counter it.

      2. Thorne

        Re: @RonWheeler - Or...

        "Of course it does, but you appear to be offering the solution of eliminating the breeders by some form or other instead of *educating* people which history has shown to be an effective way to be the way to reduce reproduction rates."

        We can educate people to reduce reproduction but then religion promotes reproduction. The net result is the educated breed less and the believers of magical sky fairies who grants wishes breed more. Less smart people and more dumb people.

        We're fighting a losing battle...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @RonWheeler - Or...

          "We're fighting a losing battle..."

          Certainly not. With Arron Em's ability to pontificate at a level which equals poetic rapture, a topic is never complete until the orgasm has been reached.

      3. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: @RonWheeler - Or...

        Overpopulation will not be a problem. We can feed the people that we expect to see on this planet.

        We will not, however, feed them using inefficient mass produced food that counts profit and the market over actual production.

        Either grow some food yourself or check out local allotments and see just how much quality food can be grown and compare that with the best mass produced food. OK it needs a few more people to get that kind of productivity - but what was the bloody problem again???

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Down

          Re: @RonWheeler - Or...

          "Either grow some food yourself ...."

          I'm glad I am not living on the food I grow myself.

          Last autumn I would've had a feast on:

          - A handful of potatoes

          - A couple of spring onions

          - The remains of the broccoli that the caterpillars left

          - Withered pea stems

          - Dead strawberry plants

          - Spinach. Or, at least I think it was, and not a weed....

          I would've starved over the extended winter, and this years batch is only getting planted now, seeing as the snow decided to remain with us until April.

          Come the revolution, I'm doomed. Better stock up on tinned grub and pot noodles...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Or...

      Yes, what a shame your parents did not hold your beliefs.

    4. Eddy Ito

      Re: Or...

      Ron, you do understand these "breeders" you speak of are just like all other people and that basically means they are cattle. They run around doing what they think is in their best interest and it doesn't matter if that is going forth and multiplying, producing enough offspring so that maybe some of them will survive long enough to take care of them or sanctimoniously berating anyone who doesn't agree with them. We're all just so much cattle even the self-important ones who think they are more equal than others.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Or... overpopulation is a myth?

      I invite you to see what you make of this...


      (and don't shoot the messenger please, I provide the link as a talking point)

    6. Alfred

      Put your money where your mouth is

      Have you sterilised yourself, and are you now making plans for your own tidy suicide?

      1. RonWheeler

        Re: Put your money where your mouth is

        Another straw man argument. Never heard of contraceptives? I don't have kids (by choice) despite having being married for 15 years..And who proposed killing anybody?

  2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    "gourmet buggery"

    My mind shuddered at the thought, and it was not about food!

    1. Aaron Miller

      Re: "gourmet buggery"

      The opposite of a Christopher Street bath-house, you might say.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Aaron Miller: A pregnant analogy.

        just a hint of 'penis ex machina'

  3. John Savard Silver badge


    Well, it may not be sound to reject eating insects from a nutritional point of view. But what about the fact that they're generally rather unsanitary creatures? After all, they're so small, they pretty well have to be eaten whole.

    1. Graham Marsden

      Re: Nutritional

      Perhaps you've not heard of Louis Pasteur? The guy who discovered that heating something to 70 degrees for 10 seconds (ie cooking it) killed harmful microbes...

      1. Physics Grad

        Re: Nutritional

        Then perhaps you would enjoy a nice hot bowl of my poo, right Graham?

        There is more to food than sanitation.

      2. Tom 11

        Re: Nutritional (Graham)

        Perhaps you might have heard then, considering your astute knowledge of this type of thing, that the microbes are not that main problem but the toxins created by said microbes during their digestive processes. Yes, we get some nasties from active 'microbes' (I'm assuming you mean Bacteria) such as Salmonella but as far as toxicology is concerned this is just a drop in a petre dish.

        Pasteurisation will only be of any use to stop toxin accumulation by denying a culture establishment in the first place. It does not sure already tainted produce.


    2. cyborg

      Re: Nutritional

      > But what about the fact that they're generally rather unsanitary creatures

      Yeah - just like those horrible arthipod cousins of theirs - shrimp, prawns, lobsters, crabs...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nutritional

        I was thinking the same as OP.

        Generally shrimp, prawns, lobsters and crabs the digestive tract is removed and disposed, not eaten.

        I get squeamish with creatures with too many legs - even lobsters and crabs. Though I do enjoy a prawn cocktail.

        In the future, ants will be a staple diet. Ant farms will literally be used for this purpose.

        Thank you, Ants.


        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wild bugs have parasites....

    Many wild bugs are full of parasitic organisms harmful to humans, so you don't want to eat wild bugs.

    So, the bugs will be factory-farmed.

    And then, PETA will complain about the conditions for factory-farmed bugs.

    (of course, I expect to see PETA weighing in on how horrible the life of a vat-grown steak is....)

    1. Thorne

      Re: Wild bugs have parasites....

      "And then, PETA will complain about the conditions for factory-farmed bugs."

      We could use PETA members instead of insects. Not exactly brain food but it should be organically raised...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Eat PETA

        Ugh. I'll take the bugs.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Eat PETA

          PETA = People Eat Tasty Animals.

          Feed the bugs to PETA. Feed PETA to the animals. Eat the animals.

          A world where bacon is replaced by insects is not to be tolerated.

          1. Richie 1

            Re: Eat PETA

            > A world where bacon is replaced by insects is not to be tolerated.

            Can't be that hard to genetically engineer bacon flavour insects.

            Or, more practically, a good start to the insect market might be insect protein shake for bodybuilders. They're always on the lookout for cheap protein sources, and by the time you've powdered them and added a load of chocolate flavouring, the disgust factor should be lower.

      2. Joe User

        Re: Wild bugs have parasites....

        "We could use PETA members instead of insects."

        No, too much crap in them, not worth the effort to clean.

  5. Fred Goldstein

    It seems to me that historically, and possibly in some places today where they lack things like refrigerators, some non-meat-eating people get a significant protein and nutrient boost via the bugs or worms that are already in some grain-type food supplies.

    1. Gene

      Weevily biscuits, anyone?

      It's been done.

      1. Rukario

        Re: Weevily biscuits, anyone?

        Straight out of the sewers of Cardiff.

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          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Weevily biscuits, anyone?

            The Battle of Trafalgar was won on plates full of creepy buns half eaten.

    2. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Bug me not

      " possibly in some places today ... some non-meat-eating people get a significant protein and nutrient boost via the bugs or worms that are already in some grain-type food supplies."

      My dad's friends have commented that his salad vegetables are not suitable for vegetarians.


      I'm slightly ashamed to say that although I totally understand the sense in eating insects, and despite my fondness for fairly similar water-dwelling creatures, I just don't like the idea and almost certainly won't be doing it.

  6. btrower

    Bone up on Malthus

    We have been dodging the population bullet for a long time, but it will surely be the thing that gets us if we don't stop it.

    Let's not invent a world where we have untold billions of serfs living on bugs and dirt. It won't cure the problem and we will meet our demise anyway. We need to turn our sites to getting population under control and getting reasonable with our husbandry of the planet.

    1. Aaron Em

      The standard objection, reiterated once more

      Whom do you propose we trust with the power to decide who may reproduce and who may not; by what means do you propose they enforce that decision, in the face of all the furious objections its attempted implementation would certainly engender?

      Be careful; suggestions such as yours, however well-meaning, necessarily tread in realms inhabited by some of the most atrocious regimes known to human history.

      1. Katie Saucey

        Re: The standard objection, reiterated once more

        While I more or less agree with you, if we assume our bug chomping decedents are still around in ever increasing numbers 100yrs from now, desperate times may call for desperate measures.

        1. Aaron Em

          Re: The standard objection, reiterated once more

          Katie Saucey: 'Decedent' means 'one who has died', which probably is not what you intended to convey; Romero aside, the dead do no chomping, be it of bugs or otherwise. Leaving aside syntactical cheap shots, you don't so much answer my objection as leave it to devolve upon your notional descendants, or at least upon someone's notional descendants, who no doubt will thank you most kindly for your efforts on their behalf.

          Presumably your inclination here is to avert what is commonly known as "Malthusian catastrophe", but to make arguments of this sort is an abuse of Malthus, no less egregious for being commonplace among those who inaccurately imagine themselves his intellectual inheritors. As a cleric and a man with a keen sense of history, Malthus would have in any case been careful to avoid suggesting any positive action be taken, save entire abandonment of the attempt, to avert the inevitable failure of utopian social engineering, whose necessity he so ably demonstrated -- to say nothing of the fact that, as a high-church Anglican writing at the turn of the nineteenth century, his famous essay could only have been intended as a broadside against the very Dissenters whose modern descendants, the political progressives, attempt, through deliberately ignorant misrepresentation, to force his legacy into the service of their disastrous turn.

      2. btrower

        Re: The standard objection, reiterated once more

        @Aaron Em

        Re: Whom do you propose we trust with the power to decide who may reproduce and who may not;

        A representative democracy to allow everyone a voice without succumbing to mob rule. We can have provably secure, secret and openly auditable elections, BTW. They are possible. The people ultimately running our elections choose not to have them. I know that is true from personal experience bidding against a well known supplier to elections whose systems are none of the above. I think that we should be governed in tiers in an order similar to: Individuals, then family groups, then neighborhoods, then communities, then cities, then regions, then provinces, then nations, then supranational entities and finally a global government. The pyramid of power should be such that most power remains at the bottom with the individual. Decreasing amounts of power should reside in higher layers. These should be strictly limited to the barest minimum necessary to carry out the functions that we mutually agree they should have. Short answer: all of us together. This will not necessarily go much more smoothly than the other affairs of men, but I think something similar has the best shot at success.

        Re: by what means do you propose they enforce that decision, in the face of all the furious objections its attempted implementation would certainly engender?

        I don't have a pat answer to this. We would have to research humane ways to have effective policy that we can all live with. It will not be perfect and for outliers it may be insufferable. However, if done well I think that the improvement in how we currently balance individual liberty with common cause will make it better for most.

        A strictly pragmattic approach would be to calculate the probable ultimate net shared cost of having offspring and make people who insistent on having more than their allotment pay that cost in another form.

        Re: Be careful; suggestions such as yours, however well-meaning, necessarily tread in realms inhabited by some of the most atrocious regimes known to human history.

        You are wise to be cautious, as am I. I am not saying we rush headlong into the arms of a despot promising security in exchange for liberty. In fact, I am of the opinion, we should be working to capture significant amounts of our liberty back. Current regimes in the world are way up in the authoritarian right and I am far, far away in the libertarian left. Things have *already* largely gone to the dark side for my money.

        Squelching the natural urge to multiply is going to be rough going, no matter how we do it. Furthermore, given that our immortal genes are programmed to multiply at all costs, this will be an ongoing battle as differential reproduction pushes more aggressively multiplying genes into the population. Evolution cares about only one thing: reproducing genetic material. If smaller, dumber, faster breeding hominids are more successful at planting a flag in the next generation they will eventually replace their slower breeding cousins.

        Whatever we do, we are almost surely better off studying, understanding and planning for the collision between infinite reproduction and finite resources. If we leave it to chance or nature, we will surely have a catastrophic collapse in population and the tremendous suffering that entails. That's how nature rolls. Our genes don't have a whole lot of allegiance at the species level. They play a long game through geological time and mankind is just one in a long line of experiments, nearly every one of which ultimately fails. The entire collapse and erasure of mankind will be a tiny blip in the biosphere entailing the loss of a trivial amount of DNA. At least some of the things that make our immortal genes immortal make *us* decidedly mortal.

        At the end of the day, this is essentially about math not much more advanced than arithmetic. It is the rule for living things to produce more living things than the environment can hold. Doomed phenotypes are a relatively cheap method for our genes to probe the environment. Unchecked, populations grow in size geometrically without bound. We have, as I mentioned earlier, dodged the bullet, but make no mistake, those bullets will continue to come our way with ever increasing mass and velocity and unless we stop increasing the size of the target one of those bullets will strike with likley fatal consequences.

        1. madestjohn

          Re: The standard objection, reiterated once more

          Random chance,

          ... Nobody is that special or unique... Get rid of 80%, which would put us back at the first half of 20th century, there were enough people then for whatever discipline you choose to have enuf people skilled at it, by basic random genetics, so make it completely random ... And seriously, .. We'll be fine.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bone up on Malthus

      "We have been dodging the population bullet for a long time, but it will surely be the thing that gets us if we don't stop it."

      Which is exactly why we are all doomed, because it is far easier for people to blame and seek answers by any other method - food production, technology, optimized land usage, recycling, foodstuff genetic engineering, etc. - than it is to fact the REAL issue: planet Earth is a finite resource and infinite growth is impossible in a closed system.

      But let's all stick our heads in the sand and pretend that the future will solve all problems. Essentially and fundamentally, human generations inevitably fail in properly planning for the future because the future does not occur for them - they are dead by the time the proposed futures come to pass. Why worry about the future when I do not have to be here to realize it? If petroleum reserves are not of a major concern, why should overpopulation be any different in the mind of people? They fight tooth and nail against plans for renewable resources, because the resources that they see they can not foresee running out (in their lifetime, that is) so we should not expect anything less regarding food.

      1. Aaron Miller

        Re: Bone up on Malthus

        Guy Fawkes: You clearly, if not quite succinctly, state the crippling flaw of all utopianism: entropy. I assure you that you need not find it so difficult to relinquish the remnant belief in same, which leads you to rail against the inevitable, and I offer the further assurance that you will certainly find yourself a more joyful and less burdened person for its absence.

  7. Physics Grad

    How about we stop spending money on the corrupt UN and instead spend it on food.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. Thorne

      "How about we stop spending money on the corrupt UN and instead spend it on food."

      How about we stop turning food into ethanol and bio diesel. There's a massive waste of food...

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        That would be a great start, too much food is wasted on crap like that, ethanol in petrol is plain daft, reduced mpg, increased damage to engines \ fuel pumps.

        As for the league of nations II, theres something to be said for shaking it up a little, it's proven itself useless many times. Too many conflicting interests (think Russia and China vs the USA and Europe) resulting in no action on issues like NK, Syria, Rwanda etc.

        The problem with food is we overthink and shirk from hard choices. GMO is 'ideal' because not only can you produce more food in a given amount of land, it's chock full of lovely stuff like formaldehyde and glyphosate which should see you off before you get round to lunch. So rather than use what we have better, we try and come up with complex solutions that cause more damage like GMO. How about reversing desertification in Africa. How about aquaponics, Hawaiian loko i'a need rebuilding and the concept replicating elsewhere, they fed hundreds of thousands in a small area without any fancy genetic enchancing. All the answers are out there and we don't need glow in the dark bacon to find them!

  8. Anomalous Cowshed


    This article mentions beef requiring 8 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of meat. But apart from the fact that the 1 kg of beef produced is more nutritionalistical or whatever the word is than 1 kg of feed, I recently spoke to a commercial vet who deals with battery farmed chickens and he told me that the ratio of kg(feed):kg(chicken) is between 1 and 2. So you would be better off eating chickens than eating insects (ratio of around 2), and less grossed out, than you would be if you follow the advice of the nutters. The only ones who would be less well off are the chickens of course.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chickens

      It is only too bad that meateaters constantly discount the impact that their 'food' raising has on the environment beyond the feed/growth ratio. I guess methane emissions, post-slaughter processing pollution, disease transmission, high production facility medicinal usage, transportation environmental impact, etc., should always be dismissed when talking about meat - because meat farmers spend millions on telling us we're "meat eaters", not biological omnivores, so we must believe them because it must be true!

      Let's not also forget the health effects of eating these creatures - because what they eat, we eat. Only at (what?) 8x the exposure concentration rate (if we use the 8:1 feed/growth ratio)?

      One of the problems with Western societies is the disconnect of production from consumers - to most people, 'Meat" is a convenient, plastic package-wrapped item that they purchase by the pound from a chilled sales case. They have absolutely NO idea what a farm is like, hell, they haven't even TOUCHED the one of the breed of animals that they self-internalize as 'only good for eating'. That disconnection means that little care is given to their consumer consumption patterns - buy in plastic, take home, cook, eat. The rest of out-of-sight, out-of-mind. This disconnect is hurting our environment - 25% of methane and 2/3's of the world's ammonia produced is simply due to livestock and way too much good farmland is lent simply to the act of allowing the food animals to graze or to grow their feed - and how all that effects the world as a whole is completely discounted because the word "meat" is on all too many people's mind.

      1. Denarius Silver badge

        Re: Chickens

        {sigh} as usual, wrong, mostly. Highly intensive cattle lots can be a local disaster, but the well governed ones are not. Waste is recycled using something called processing and farming a substance called soil. Grows new cattle food I believe. Critical point is that food animals turn useless vegetation into useful food. Lose the animals and large areas of the worlds grasslands will need to be burned off far more or there will be destructive fires damaging soil. Ever seen soil after a major wild fire has sterilised it a meter deep because latte slurping green grunters in inner cities whined timid governments into stopping controlled burnoffs? Collapsing economies and ecologies due to an aversion to good management such as US of A are easily avoidable. What is this good farmland going to be used for if no animals ? And as a greenie, do you think mass extinction of domestic animals is good ? Aside from that, I like the aethetics of grazing animals in good condition. Lamb gambolling or cows quietly chewing are calming to the soul. When it becomes time for them to be lunch, processing is quick as stress is minimised. This because (a) I dont like anythings pain, (b) the meat is tougher. Happy animals produce good food, whereas you are demanding their extinction. Which one of us is cruel ?

        The most ecological damage comes from poverty. Often maintained in that state by socialist governments in poor countries. Africa for instance. Once the locals are given ownership of local land again, forests get repaired and the land improved. Private family farmers tend to think long term. Channel country cattle stations are an excellent example in Oz.

        Finally, existing trends are that by 2050 the planets population will diminish anyway. Improve education, health and local economies and population growth will slow even further. As usual, more panic merchants flogging nostrums for non-existent problems. One thinks that the planet has a cancer called rampant bureaucracy or expert groups.

        1. Rukario
          Thumb Down

          Re: Chickens

          @Denarius > The most ecological damage comes from poverty. Often maintained in that state by socialist governments in poor countries.

          Hardly socialist governments. Kleptocratic would be a better description.

      2. Aaron Em

        Re: Chickens

        Oh, God, spare us the hectoring of evangelistic vegetarians, especially those who assume that those of us who spurn their sackcloth do so only out of some lack of epiphany which could be redressed through getting to know a chicken or a cow. I tell you, sir, I have been elbow deep in the manure of both sorts of creature, and I assure you that neither has a nobler purpose than to serve our species as they do. That vegetarians' preferred fodder could not possibly be produced in so vast a quantity as it is, absent such an inexhaustible source of ammonium for fertilizer, we shall entirely leave aside.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Chickens

          What part of "omnivore" did your brain fail to comprehend?!

          You SHOULD be eating a diet consisting mostly of grains and vegetables with very modest additions of meat at somewhat irregular intervals. HOWEVER, Westerners insist on eating a diet consisting mostly of meat with additions of (and sometime irregular intervals) of grains and vegetables. And, no, ketchup is NOT a "vegetable" no matter what the USDA says.

          There are currently a good number of people, mostly Gen X / Y, who do state they "do not eat vegetables at all" (direct quote). Besides the massive health risks let's talk about how their dietary plan impacts the balance of the world's ecosystem...on second thought, let's not. It seems that not many people wish to discuss how their individual actions have far-reaching repercussions beyond their own sphere of influence, no surprise there, and the many people on this board who are no different and should not be singled out in that regard. At the least, note how the Western world depends upon modern medicines for health and life support while societies with more historically balanced diets do just fine without the same level of dependence.

          1. Aaron Miller

            Re: Chickens

            Perhaps you aren't an evangelistic vegetarian, but there is precious little in your rhetoric to dissuade the observer from thinking you one. You would be well advised to attend to that, lest you inadvertently present yourself as something you're not.

          2. Rukario

            Re: Chickens

            > You SHOULD be eating a diet consisting mostly of grains and vegetables with very modest additions of meat at somewhat irregular intervals. HOWEVER, Westerners insist on eating a diet consisting mostly of meat with additions of (and sometime irregular intervals) of grains and vegetables.

            This is wrong in so many ways. The only reason why you "should" be eating a diet consisting mostly of grains is to enrich the various grain-producing lobbies. This is also the same reason why livestock is fed on a diet of grains rather than grass. Yet we're told contradictory reasons, the same grains are supposed to slim down humans while fattening livestock. As a result, the Western diet consists, not "mostly of meat", but rather, mostly (well over half) of grains and other pure starches, and the other half is, yes, mostly meat, with a smattering of vegetables. (Compare bread:meat ratio in a Big Mac, then add the fries, yep more starch.) And we wonder why we have such a problem with the 'beetus.

            <- The only acceptable way to consume grains. (Whisky is also implied.)

    2. Aaron Em


      The word you seek is 'nutritious', or perhaps 'nutritive' if you're feeling fancy. Please don't invent abominations where none are necessary.

      Your ratio is also, I think, mis-expressed; as it stands, you imply that two kilograms of edible chicken meat result from every kilogram of feed, which seems unlikely.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chickens

      Plus... you can feed the chickens insects? I'm all for eating safe and new foods. But is eating insects the most efficient and reasonable course available?

      I have some fresh water shrimp. They are probably too small to eat though!

  9. Tom 35

    nobody likes me everybody hates me guess i'll go eat worms

    Big fat juicy ones,

    Eensie weensy squeensy ones,

    See how they wiggle and squirm!

  10. mertron1

    it will be hundreds or thousands of years before we have the technology to colonize another planet fit for human survival.....its about time we truly turn our attentions to saving the only planet we have...for years we have ignored the population problem...women with the approval of their spouse (and in some cases not) popping out kids like there's no future...knowing they do not have the means to fully provide for them. The ignorance of mankind will be its final defeat............and sooner than later....!!!

    1. madestjohn

      We may never colonize another planet, ... At least while we're still identifiable as humans.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Population growing exponentially ?

    see this graph here

    when the line reaches 2 the total world population will start to fall, slowly at first and then a little quicker, before you know it there will be too few people and they will be too widely spread to save the human population.

    1. Oldfogey

      Re: Population growing exponentially ?

      And if humanity becomes extinct, exactly how will this matter? Another species will move into the ecological gap, and the world will continue unconcerned.

      1. RonWheeler

        Re: Population growing exponentially ?

        Evidence for this speculation?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Population growing exponentially ?

          Overpopulation stories are usually associated with cries of exponential population growth. (ie. total population doubled in X years and doubled again after a lessor period of years)

          Fertility rates are falling (see the graph), when the fertility rate falls below 2 then people dying are not replaced. (rate above 2 means population is growing)

          Start with 100 couples, they each have 2 children so the total population will be 400 people. The 200 children form 100 couples and each have 200 children, total is 600. These children have 200 children between them but 200 old people die, total population remains at 600 and the average age of the population will settle out around the middle

          If the fertility rate falls below 2 then over time more people will die than are being born and the population will fall, average age will rise until eventually the last old person dies and thats it.

          Look at this graph


          Germany, Italy and China are well below replacement rate

          The UK is closer to replacement rate but that is only because we import people from countries that have a high birth rate (their children become westerners in one generation and adopt our low birth rate)

          Look at the birth rate of the countries that the UK imports people from, high at the moment but falling. At some point in the future we will run out of source countries and our population will age and die (just like G, I and C)

          It's not speculation, it's maths

          1. madestjohn

            Re: Population growing exponentially ?

            No its not math .. Its speculation based on poor and limited data, ... You can not use single or double data points to predict trends, you say german china and Italy are well below replacement rate, ...

            Have any of those countries had a reduction in population? ... No.

            Do any of those ethnic groups have a reduction in population size world wide? .... No.

            So, ... Reduction of replacement rate when multi generations households are common and expanding, more grandparents and great grandparents, is a meaningless number.

            In all case each and every one of your examples has had a steady increase in population density, ... And predicting future behavior is extremely tenuous and arrogant ... Look at the recent boom in population growth in Egypt, do you deny that similar growths could be seen in any of the above if the political situation was to change? Do you think that political change in any of the above is unlikely?

            You can pretend the numbers tell you that all is going to be fine, ... You can say that the great fairy princes of population will prevent continued growth, you can say the weather will be sunny on yir birthday but its all bull shit until you have some actual numbers to support it.

            Population is growing, ... And its continues to grow ... And unless we are different from every other species on this planet it will continue to grow until it crashes .... Then allot of people will die, .... Its how it works.

  12. Graham Marsden

    Do you know how sausages are made...?

    Most people don't know and, if you told them, would wish you hadn't told them!

    So why this assumption that, as happens with some countries in Asia etc, we'd actually be eating the insects with legs and wings and everything else intact?

    Why not just grow them, farm them, then mince and pulp them before re-constituing them in a more palatable and pleasing-to-the-eye form, so it's no longer "a bug", but simply another form of protein?

    1. cyborg

      Re: Do you know how sausages are made...?

      People (squeemish Westerners) need to get with the program and realise that they've been eating "bugs" for a long time - they just prefer them from the sea.

  13. brain_flakes

    > requires a mere two kilograms of food to produce one kilogram of what it charmingly refers to as "insect meat", a far better feed-to-food ratio than, for example, a fatted calf, which requires eight kilograms of feed to produce one kilogram of beef

    Here's a crazy idea, how about everyone just eats their damn vegetables and we get 2kg from 2kg of food instead of 1kg from 2kg of food?

    1. Denarius Silver badge

      One word, BBQ

      because veges are not as good as snaggers or steak on a hot iron plate

    2. Thorne

      "Here's a crazy idea, how about everyone just eats their damn vegetables and we get 2kg from 2kg of food instead of 1kg from 2kg of food?"

      Cause bacon tastes better than brussel sprouts... (and these same damn do-gooders vegan hippies are stopping the geneticists from making bacon flavoured brussel sprouts)

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Don't knock the sprout

        I actually like them - with a nice roast meal

        <---- A sprout with go written on it

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Here's a crazy idea, how about everyone just eats their damn vegetables and we get 2kg from 2kg of food instead of 1kg from 2kg of food?"

      EXACTLY! It is far more advantageous, never mind economical, to eat the direct product of the agriculture rather than cross-feed the harvest to an animal to husband...just to, eventually, eat said animal. And yet, every time this type of question appears for discussion the same thing happens: the Westerners come out and vehemently defend their high meat intake diets to the point that even when under duress from economic, social or environmental pressures, all that gets offhandedly dismissed as the ideas of 'crackpots', 'treehuggers', 'veggie nutjobs' or (nowadays) 'socialist schemers'.

      So what is going on?

      Let us attempt to examine this question from a perspective of a dispassionate observer: We are witnessing the outcome of centuries of socio-economic and peer pressure.

      For hundreds, if not thousands, of years, meat was taken in by the masses on a limited basis. Livestock, or game animals, were either expensive to raise/harvest or outright banned. For example, in the Middle Ages the wild animals on the King's or your lord's land were not accessible to you, the lowly surf occupying said land - they belonged to the master. As such, the master made the rules and the rules were that you were not allowed to hunt for food on his land except by express permission, anything else was poaching in the eyes of the law. So poor surfs made do with diets high in cereals and vegetables while meat was the costly luxury afforded during good times, special occasions or by the high classes.

      With the rise of the middle class in the early 20th century, the desire to acquire some of the trappings of wealth that had so long eluded them was high on the personal agenda. From jewelry, originally worn as a visible display of the wealth of the upper classes, to exotic foods previously too expensive to partake in, the middle class sought what was previously denied. Meats, and a diet high in such, was one such luxury still in vogue even in the late 19th century: the wealthy would hold lavish dinners for guests featuring plenty of meats, some featuring exotic types from far-off locales, as a display of their ability to treat the guest to only the finest. The upcoming middle class wanted to have a taste of that 'good life'.

      And so meat consumption exploded during the early-middle part of the 20th century in Western cultures, as the individual society grew in political and economic strength. War-torn Europe had years of hardship where meat was a rare luxury, doled out when available by ration, but as the economies of Europe were rebuilt the production and consumption of meat also skyrocketed to way beyond prewar years.

      So what we are fighting here is more than simple diet plans - we are fighting people's adverse reaction to equating 'no meat' = 'poor' ("poor" in term of either economic or social standing). Low-meat diets are for the 'lower / poorer countries', not for Westerners who can afford and deserve common access to such (historically luxurious) foodstuffs (as the article implies). This is a mindset - Westerners have been told for the past 20 years that a more richy varied diet, high in vegetables and grains, would benefit their overall health yet many Westerners still cling to a high fat, high meat intake diet due to being ingrained by the society's stigma against such a 'menial' diet. A high meat diet is for 'real men', and is still a show of wealth - at a BBQ, a host providing a large tray of steaks is seen as a generous provider to their guests, only the best.

    4. A J Stiles


      Because although humans require taurine (a protein fragment which does not occur in any plant), there is a rare genetic disorder which leaves someone lacking the necessary enzymes to manufacture it in sufficient quantities -- thus requiring a dietary source of taurine.

      A less rare condition is the inability to digest gluten (a protein found in wheat), but this also pretty much precludes a vegetarian diet.

      Also, even if one is able to manufacture one's own taurine and digest gluten, there are still many "foods" from which the human digestive system is no good at extracting nutrition, but other animals have no problem converting into something humans *can* eat. Much of the "input" 2kg. could be inedible to humans. As for the stuff that's not edible even to animals (such as the poisonous above-ground parts of the potato plant), that is what we should be making biofuel from.

  14. no one in particular.....

    bon apitite....

    I hope there are enough spoons and forks to go around because this is just the tip of the ice burg....and all nations shall share in the feast of pestilence; as they drink in the scarlet overflow that they take great pleasure in spill so senselessly....Yes, everyone shall partake.....enjoy that earth for now.....

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: bon apitite....


      "ice burg"?

      If you want to be taken seriously, you should consider investing in a dictionary.

  15. weak

    Why this wont work.

    These are reasons why eating bugs wont come into fruition (from a layman):

    1)Bugs are hard to maintain. Yes they are smaller but unlike cows if they break free, its their small size that makes bugs harder to capture back once free.

    1a) Once bugs have broken loose ,they can eat up eat trees and plants in large amounts especially if they happen to be an invader species. This imbalance on the environment can have bad consequences on a local ecosystem.

    2)They are nasty... lol. There is mentality that exist among people where some are just not willing to go over yet.

    3) My best point for last, they are exotically incompatible with people. If eating pig meat gives people swine flu, that's a big deal but scientists have control over it through the known research of animals and years of knowledge about them. Pigs are mammals. Diseases and toxins from mammals would function more similarly in humans than those disease and toxins if they were from insects. I mean there are a lot of insect species out there each with something unknown about them.The nature of insects are simply mysterious. Imagine if someone gets sick from some insect food due to a strange toxin. Hell, we might not really know what to do. There is simply just not enough info about insects. They are also just too different from humans.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Why this wont work.

      In all fairness bugs are eaten routinely in many cultures already.

      1. cyborg

        Re: Why this wont work.

        But, but... only backwards cultures who refuse to bend to the obvious superiority of *our* arbitrary distinctions on what is or is not worthy of being food.

        I mean they even eat horses on the continent and they're a lot closer to being as civilised as Brits! You've no hope with those backwards types.

        Now excuse me whilst I tuck into my lobster.

        Eating arthripods indeed - disgusting.

        1. Rampant Spaniel

          Re: Why this wont work.

          They eat snails as well (they're actually really popular in Africa as well), but I guess that is France so point taken :-)

  16. Curly4

    A better method

    Eating bugs as protein or using theme as animal feed and then eating the animal or even grinding them up and using theme as fertilizer for crops would also be very inefficient. Any of these ways would only delay the time which the world becomes overpopulated.

    A better way would be to reduce the birth rate to slightly below the replacement rate for at lease 80 or so years then allow it to go to the replacement rate. This could be done by requiring all girls when they reach puberty to be given a long term birth control method which dose not require any action on their part . So birth control pills, condoms and other forms that action on the girl's part. Also when and if a effective long term birth control method is developed for boys they would also get this. Then when the prime reproductive age is reached by each certain ones (both girls and boys) would be chosen to reproduce. Some of the criteria may be such things as education, income, inventiveness and the lack of abnormal genes. Some would not be given the privileged to reproduce. Nor would just being a politician would qualify. Being a member of a conservation religious or conservative political group would disqualify one though. Sexual preference nor gender identification would disqualify a person if they qualified other wise.

    1. adrian727

      Re: A better method

      >Being a member of a conservation religious or conservative political group would disqualify one though.

      You'll make more suicide bombers, as well as who's gonna determine who is conservative? Not to mention they'll conceive/remove the birth control illegally.

      Still, put a nasty charge on having more than one kid worked in China.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: A better method

        Who chooses?

        That's the massive stumbling block that all the "limit reproduction" schemes fall into.

        One method I've heard is this one:

        "Everybody has the right to parent 3/4 of a child. Thus, each couple has a 1.5 child birthright and can either sell the spare half or buy a half from another couple. Anybody not wanting to be a parent can sell their full 3/4."

        I think it was Kim Stanley Robinson.

        That turns the problem into one of a free market for parenthood. It might even work!

        1. A J Stiles

          Re: A better method

          Yeah, because carbon trading (a scheme where you make yourself feel better by bribing some peasant farmer in the third world not to go mechanised so you can make the emissions they would have made, then they pocket the money and go mechanised anyway) worked so well, didn't it?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If Nature has a 'solution' for this problem, doesn't she also have a 'dark solution'?

  18. LaeMing

    Again MS-Windows is ahead of the curve.

    Windows users have been eating bugs for decades :-P

    1. Thorne

      Re: Again MS-Windows is ahead of the curve.

      Eating is too strong a word. Choking on them is closer....

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Again MS-Windows is ahead of the curve.

      Yeah, because there are FAR more of us....

      Most of our bugs are identified and classified.

      As opposed to???

  19. Frumious Bandersnatch

    why not complete the cycle?

    Simply feed the maggots that infest sheep to the livestock themselves.

    (anyone who's dipped sheep will probably know where I'm coming from)

  20. croc

    How in hell did the earth ever get by without humans to guide it by the hand? (Or more importantly, I think, when will the earth get pissed off enough at we humans to do a re-balancing act?)

  21. Local G
    Paris Hilton

    Here's looking at you, aphid.

    "In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin's breast;

    In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;

    In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish'd dove;

    In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of bugs."

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Anything is edible if it is boiled, deep fried, or covered in chocolate...

    ...and you don't know what it is.

    As for me, I'll go vegan before I resort to eating insect "meat".

    Or mostly vegan - I figure I could still eat a pound of real meat for every eight pounds of insect meat a Malthusian eats. After all, we'd have the same planetary impact according to their formula...

    I chose the icon because it looks sorta like a squashed bug if you squint a bit.

    1. C 18

      Re: Anything is edible if it is boiled, deep fried, or covered in chocolate...

      'Lark's vomit! Get yer lark's vomit!'

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Anything is edible if it is.... covered in chocolate...

        or skin-tight denim, for that matter

  23. Anonymous Coward

    "gourmet buggery"

    Another image i have to try and repress...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: "gourmet buggery"

      Do chocolate starfish count???

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Not one reference to Soylent Green? Shame on you!

    1. Big_Boomer Silver badge

      Re: What?!!

      Don't you mean Harry Harrisons "Make Room! Make Room!"? Soylent Green was a poor interpretation of the book, but then again aren't most movies? I prefer the ethos espoused in Motörheads "Eat the Rich".

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Eating insects seems like a great idea at first but eventually people will get put off it when Tesco are found to be be using horse fly!

  26. C 18

    Holy hyperbole Batman!

    Almost two pages of comments and nobody has bothered with grasping the nettle of opportunity to pun the jocular classic, never gets dull, 'waiter! waiter!'.

    So, this guy walks into a restaurant...

    Anyway, he's had a look at the menu and ordered and everything...

    >cut to the chase<

    'Waiter! Waiter! There's some soup in my fly!'

    Mine's the bluebottle green one with the fly in the zip pocket...

    Kermit (great protocol he was too) reminds us that 'time's fun when you're having flies!'

  27. MJI Silver badge

    We can't eat grass

    But cows and sheep do

    So grasslands can only feed us using livestock

  28. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Feeding insects to cattle

    What could possibly go wrong? It was fine when we fed sheep, etc*, to cattle, after all.

    *etc: At the time of the BSE outbreak, I worked for a company that supplied (reputable) cattle feed ingredients as part of its business. It was known that some farmers were adding cement to their feed - presumably to stiffen up the dead sheep brains.

  29. Daniel B.

    We already do insect as food

    In a large part of Mexico, you can buy a bag of fried "chapulines" (I think you call 'em either crickets or grasshoppers), and they're eaten mostly in the same way as potato chips.

    I have to say, they *are* tasty. So it's just a matter of which insects are in the menu ... I would never, ever eat other kinds of bug (i.e. cockroach. Gross!!)

  30. trafalgar

    FFS It's not the birth rate, which has been going down globally over the last 50s years. Its the over 40s not dying off like they used to.

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