A recent Dutch study has found that protein from mealworms generates about half as much greenhouse gas emissions compared to protein from milk, pork or chicken, and about a tenth of protein from beef.
The major difference is the consumption of feed and consequently also land area. The use of direct energy in production is level with or even slightly higher than for traditional protein sources.
As the demand for protein increases in the world, protein from invertebrates has been highlighted as a more sustainable alternative to traditional sources of animal protein. But so far, there have been few practical studies and the mealworm study is, according to the authors, the first true lifecycle analysis for a system where the insects are bred as a protein source.
“A more efficient, and more sustainable system of food production is needed. Now, for the first time it has been shown that mealworms, and possibly other edible insects, can aid in achieving such a system,” Dennis Oonincx, one of the authors, told Science Daily.
Source: Environmental Impact of the Production of Mealworms as a Protein Source for Humans – A Life Cycle Assessment (2012) by Oonincx DGAB, de Boer IJM (2012) http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0051145