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Welfare considerations for farming black soldier flies, Hermetia illucens (Diptera: Stratiomyidae): a model for the insects as food and feed industry

In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed
Authors:
M. Barrett Department of Biology, California State University Dominguez Hills, Carson, CA 90747, USA.
Rethink Priorities, 530 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA.

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https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1270-4983
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S.Y. Chia Laboratory of Entomology, Wageningen University and Research, P.O. Box 16, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands.

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B. Fischer Rethink Priorities, 530 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA.
Department of Philosophy, Texas State University, 601 University Dr, San Marcos, TX 78666, USA.

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J.K. Tomberlin Department of Entomology, Texas A and M University, 2475 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843, USA.

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Open Access

Over two hundred billion black soldier flies (BSF, Hermetia illucens (Diptera: Stratiomyidae)) are reared annually across the globe, with the industry projected to grow substantially in the coming decade. Black soldier flies are being actively explored across the globe for use as livestock feed; fishmeal replacements; biodiesel; human, animal, and food waste management; and even sustainable human protein. Despite the huge number of individual insects reared and interest in BSF welfare by numerous producers and academics, there is no paper that considers the species-specific welfare of BSF in farmed conditions. We review factors that relate to BSF welfare in commercial rearing facilities, including: diseases/parasites, abiotic conditions (temperature, humidity/moisture, substrate aeration, light, pupation substrates, and adult spatial needs), adult and larval nutritional considerations, injury and crowding, handling-associated stress, selective breeding and genetic modification, environmental contaminants, and slaughter methods. We conclude with a discussion of the most pressing welfare concerns for the industry, recommendations for altering the conditions that give rise to them, and suggestions for future research directions that would lend valuable insights to BSF welfare. While this summary is BSF-centric, the core topic of animal welfare applies to all insect models currently, or in the future, produced as food and feed.

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