Coercive covid-19 lockdown measures, vaccine mandates, the transition to green energy, and poorly thought out Western sanctions against Russia have all played significant roles in disrupting global food markets and supply chains. In May 2022, data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization indicated that, relative to twelve months ago, “international wheat prices have increased 56 percent,” “cereal prices are up nearly 30 percent,” and “vegetable oils are 45 percent higher.”
The World Bank expects many people to be pushed into extreme poverty and to experience food insecurity on account of higher prices for both food and farm inputs, particularly in nations that import most of their needs in these areas. More specifically, it notes that “the war in Ukraine has altered global patterns of trade, production, and consumption of commodities in ways that will keep prices at historically high levels through the end of 2024 exacerbating food insecurity and inflation.” Meanwhile, Bayer, “an international chemicals, agricultural and healthcare group,” projects that “food insecurity will affect up to 1.9 billion people by November 2022—mainly caused by the war in Ukraine and further accelerated by climate change and COVID-19,” which could possibly lead to a “hurricane of hunger.”
In May, the World Economic Forum (WEF) issued a press release stating that “there is a risk that short-term efforts to combat food shortages could come at the expense of meeting climate and sustainability targets given the interconnection between agriculture and climate change. Global food production contributes more than a third of greenhouse gas emissions, and efforts to ramp up food supply could worsen emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.” The WEF does not support efforts to find immediate solutions to the current food crisis; rather, it is focusing on making radical changes to food production and human beings’ consumption habits over the coming decades. In 2018, the WEF pointed out that
feeding the world in 2050 will require a 70 percent increase in overall food production because of population growth and changes in consumption driven by an expanding middle class, with demand for red meat and dairy products increasing by up to 80 percent. Every opportunity presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution must be used to realize a global food production system that can address challenges with limited environmental impact.
That shows that transforming the food industry was already among the main items on the WEF’s agenda prior to the emergence of covid-19 and the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine. This became further apparent in June 2020, only three months after the pandemic was declared and well before there were any indications of an impending food crisis: the WEF webpage already stated that “COVID-19 reveals a strong and urgent need for representatives of all sectors of the economy to come together and engage in a dialogue to plan what a post-pandemic food system will look like.”
The WEF has expressed its commitment to “helping define the agriculture industry agenda” and is calling for a transition to new alternatives to help “feed an expanding populace,” such as “Impossible Foods, Just and Beyond Meat,” all of which are “plant-based products” that attempt to imitate “the sensory profile of meat.” It is also promoting the greater utilization of “cultured meat” produced in laboratories. More precisely, the WEF envisages “the use of biotechnologies to engineer tissues from cell culture for end-product application, such as meat, or the use of cells/microorganisms as a ‘factory’ to produce fats and/or proteins that make up an end food product, such as eggs and milk.” Additionally, it supports the use of “a technique that enables scientists to hack into genomes, make precise incisions, and insert desired traits into plants.”
The WEF is also promoting edible insects, including ants, bees, beetles, caterpillars, crickets, dragonflies, grasshoppers, earthworms, leafhoppers, termites, and locusts, as an alternative food source that would consume “fewer resources than traditional livestock” and emit “less harmful gas than more mainstream farm animals.” In 2018, the WEF stated that “from the farmer’s point of view, raising insects is going to be radically different from raising sheep, pigs, or cattle,” as there will be “no more coping with mud, muck and filth.” Meanwhile, the “consumption of insects can offset climate change” by reducing people’s “carbon footprint in food consumption.”
To encourage people to accept insects in their daily diets, the WEF has been promoting some of their nutritional benefits and other features. For example, it claims that eating “grasshoppers” will provide “nearly as much protein, more calcium and iron, and less fat than the equivalent amount of ground beef.” Furthermore, the WEF highlights “insects such as the Tenebrio Molitor” because its “high protein content makes it a highly digestible ingredient that can be used in senior nutrition.” Advocates of edible insects also claim that putting cockroaches on “fruits and vegetables” creates a very good “taste,” while blackflies, which are “rich in fatty acids to the same extent as in some fish oils,” can replace “blood sausage.”
The World Bank largely concurs with the WEF when it comes to the mass production and consumption of edible insects, arguing that insect farming, “for both human food and animal feed, ha[s] the potential to increase access to nutritious food, while creating millions of jobs, improving the climate and the environment, and strengthening national economies.” The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations also touts edible insects’ benefits, stating:
Edible insects contain high quality protein, vitamins and amino acids for humans. Insects have a high food conversion rate, e.g., crickets need six times less feed than cattle, four times less than sheep, and twice less than pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein. Besides, they emit less greenhouse gases and ammonia than conventional livestock. Insects can be grown on organic waste. Therefore, insects are a potential source for conventional production (mini-livestock) of protein, either for direct human consumption, or indirectly in recomposed foods (with extracted protein from insects); and as a protein source into feedstock mixtures.
Moreover, the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF), which currently has eighty-three members from twenty-three different countries, was established in 2012 to represent “the interests of the insect production sector towards EU policy makers, European stakeholders and citizens.” In particular, it promotes “the use of insects for human consumption and insect-derived products as a top tier source of nutrients for animal feed.”
The IPIFF pointed out that while “more than 2,000 insect species are consumed worldwide,” only seven species are “used in animal feed” and only about “a dozen are allowed in food” in “certain” members of the European Union. Accordingly, this organization is seeking to increase the variety and quantity of insects consumed in Europe and around the world.
Supporters of the mass production and consumption of alternative food products are fully aware that coercing the world population into accepting this dystopian transformation of the food industry will likely destroy the livelihoods of billions of people who are dependent on conventional farming, which will lead to unprecedented poverty, desperation, misery, and starvation, particularly among the lower and middle classes. Furthermore, they also realize that people are not going to voluntarily make such drastic changes to their food and eating habits, which are often tied to their heritage and traditions.