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Entomophagy and power

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Müller, A 
Evans, J 
Payne, CLR 
Roberts, R 


jats:pEdible insects are being framed as a panacea for health, resource and climate challenges, and the ‘entomophagy movement’ is growing rapidly. Yet as the insect ‘solution’ is scaled up, there is a greater focus on technical innovation and less on the structural inequalities that govern who produces within, who controls, and who benefits from the edible insect trade. We ask: To what extent is the promotion of ‘entomophagy’ challenging or reproducing power relations in global food systems? Drawing on evidence from academia, industry, and the local insect trade in Southeast Asia we critically investigate the rising interest in insects as food. We conducted a systematic literature review, a systematic company and product review of products available online, and fieldwork in Thailand where the edible insect market is growing. Our analysis suggests that the emerging edible insects movement is – generally but not exclusively – reinforcing the existing power relations that many of its actors suggest it could challenge. We conclude our paper with recommendations for further research to investigate the disparity between the claims and consequences of this ‘quick-fix’ approach to food systems. Beyond relying on solely technical and market-based solutions, we recommend more ‘power-aware’ approaches in academia and business, accountability and transparency in research and trade, more detailed critical research in different contexts, and the inclusion of marginalised actors in the discourse, as means to realise the potential of edible insects in a democratic way.</jats:p>



edible insects, food security, global economy, social inequality, Thailand

Journal Title

Journal of Insects as Food and Feed

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Natural Environment Research Council