Flat White

Locusts this lunchtime? The CSIRO recommends them

5 May 2021

1:11 PM

5 May 2021

1:11 PM

Australia’s peak science body says we should eat insects to save the planet.

“Follow the science,” they say. 

Like hell.

Insects require less feed, use less land, consume less water and emit less gas than cows, pigs or chickens, our taxpayer-funded boffins have reported.

Therefore, the science goes, if people eat bugs instead of stepping on them, the Greta Thunberg sponsored climate crisis will be averted and we will all be saved. 


Prime minister Billy Hughes could never have imagined, back in 1916 when he established what is now known as the CSIRO, that it would come down to this — men in lab coats declaring that if we make grubs our grub we ant going to die from global worming.

Predictably, our friends at the ABC loved the idea.

ABC Breakfast host Lisa Millar, sipping a green ant flavoured beverage, opined: “In 100 years we will be surprised that we didn’t eat insects. It’s such an easy solution to the food issue.”

Yeah right. Just like walking is such an easy solution to the transport issue.

ABC staff should get back to us when the canteen lady at their Ultimo headquarters replaces the beef pie with worm pie and asks every Chicken-Little lefty customer “do you want flies with that?”

But for those of us who don’t want to end up looking like Gollum, we’re not chowing down on crickets any time soon.

CSIRO entomologist Dr Brian Lessard, whose surname — said quickly — sounds like Lizard which is entirely appropriate given his enthusiasm for eating bugs, told ABC Breakfast that indigenous people “have been eating insects for tens of thousands of years”.


Indigenous people have been chasing emus with sticks for tens of thousands of years too. But that’s not an argument for the rest of us to follow suit.

Lessard said that one of the reasons for the “drive” to get Aussies crunching on creepy crawlies was “to engage the expertise of Aboriginal Australians but to make sure they reap the financial benefit from their intellectual copyright”.

That a particular group of people have an intellectual copyright on digesting insects would be news to most people, for whom digesting insects is as simple as sleeping with their mouth open. But I digress.

The report Lessard co-authored for the CSIRO, entitled Edible Insects Industry Roadmap, says: “By becoming braver in our food choices and incorporating insects into our diet, we can lower our environmental footprint, improve our health and be more connected to our land and culture.”

Lessard might like to consider that most Australians don’t want to be Bear Grylls. Our idea of a ‘brave food choice’ is a kebab at 3.00 am, not a beetle.

And most Australians don’t eat to “be more connected to our land”, whatever that means. If eating ants makes one more connected to our land, then perhaps it is possible to be too connected to our land.

And one more thing: “Chuck another cockroach on the barbie” is hardly going to help the tourism industry recover if international borders ever reopen.

Lessard told the ABC: “By 2050 we are going to have to feed 9.7 billion people using the same limited resources we have today. Insects are a really sustainable way of producing high-quality protein to meet that challenge.”

If the CSIRO cannot imagine any scientific advances in the next 30 years such that their best advice to Australians is ‘eat moths’, then one wonders why we should continue to fund them.

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