May 20, 2013
In what may go down as one of the most obtusely out-of-touch policy memos ever written, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recently released a paper entitled “Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security.”
For 171 pages, the paper argues for insect-based diets, explaining why governments should “[d]evelop a clear and comprehensive legal framework” to ensure that we all start eating insects.
So what’s the UN’s reasoning behind this? How could the organization possibly justify such an idea?
Simple. Because it’s better for the environment.
As the paper states, “[i]nsects… emit considerably fewer greenhouse gases (GHGs) than most livestock,” and, “eating insects is not only good for [our] health, it is good for the planet.”
Sounds disgusting, no? But it’s all good, according to the report, because the Tukanoan jungle village (population 100) in Colombia eats invertebrate insects. Therefore, so should we.
They recognize that people might be put-off by such an idea. So their solution to resolve the ‘disgust factor’ is for governments to sponsor ‘bug banquets’ in order to reduce prejudice against insects.
It seems the fanaticism of these bureaucratic do-gooders has now reached epically farcical, and even dangerous levels; they view the government as an instrument to jam poorly-conceived solutions down people’s throats… in this case, almost literally.
This agenda ties in nicely with other government initiatives that tell people what they can / cannot put in their bodies: aspartame and high fructose corn syrup– good; raw milk– bad.
The paper also cites the cost factor. Without a full-frontal acknowledgement that food prices have been rising, the authors make a strong case for the economic benefits of insect-based nutrition.
Of course, anyone who has been to a grocery store in the last five years knows that food prices have been rising. A recent poll of Globe and Mail readers found that 53% of those surveyed have cut back on purchases because of rising food prices.
And when you look at the big picture for agriculture, it’s not pretty.
World population growth and the rising wealth demographics across Asia are driving unprecedented increases in demand.
Meanwhile, peak yields, soil erosion, weather challenges, water shortages, and declines in arable land worldwide are causing decreases in supply.
Then there are a number of destructive policy initiatives– price controls, export restrictions, etc. which lead to further supply reductions.
Plus the mother of bad policy, monetary policy, is creating trillions of new dollars in the financial system. Much of this finds its way into the agricultural commodity markets, driving food prices even higher.
Bottom line: rising demand, decreasing supply, and bad policy mean the best we can hope for is rising food prices. The worst case is potential shortages.
It’s a real problem. But with due respect to cultures that do eat insects, something tells me that global consumption Palm weevil larvae ain’t the solution.
I remember a few years ago when Bill Dudley, Goldman Sachs alumnus and current President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, spoke at an event claiming that there was no inflation because the price of the iPad 2 was lower than the iPad 1.
At the time, this sounded like the modern day equivalent of “Let them eat cake,” the quip most commonly attributed to the wife of France’s Louis XVI months before their beheading in the 1790s.
The United Nations has clearly taken this to a whole new level. “Let them eat insects.”
It’s just another reminder of how truly out of touch these people are… and that placing any level of confidence in government to solve the world’s problems is dangerous course of action.