The world is facing an incoming global protein shortage due to existing malnutrition and further rapid increases in population size. It will however be difficult to greatly expand traditional methods of protein production such as cattle, chicken and pig farming, due to space limitations and environmental costs such as deforestation. As a result, alternative sources of protein that require less space and fewer resources, such as insects and other invertebrates, are being sought. The Neotropics are a key area of focus given the widespread prevalence of entomophagy and developing animal welfare regulations. Unlike vertebrate livestock however, insect “minilivestock” are typically not protected by existing animal welfare regulations. This is despite the fact that the evidence is mounting that insects possess “personalities”, may experience affective states analogous to emotions and feel something like pain. In this forum article, we highlight this discrepancy, outline some of the emerging research on the topic and identify areas for future research. There are various empirical and ethical questions that must be addressed urgently while insect farming is ramped up around the globe. Finally, we describe the benefits and also potential costs of regulation for insect welfare.
Bibliographical noteOpen Access via the Springer Compact Agreeement
- Insect farming
- Insect sentience
- Insect welfare