Food supply may depend on farming Flies

  • December 19, 2012
  • Joe Lederman

The Australian summer is renowned for the hazard of obtrusive Flies.

Unlike dignatories who with a nonchalant hand-wave will acknowledge an awaiting crowd, most Australian are exponents of the Australian Wave, an emphatic backhanded flick to keep the flies off one’s face.

Yet, if we listen to author Jason Drew,  a British born South African-based ‘environmental capitalist’  or ‘eco-entrepeneur’ who recently toured Australia giving lectures and radio interviews, the goodness of the Fly is being harnessed for our better future. Drew already has a successful track record as an entrepreneur and businessman in a diversity of profitable environmentally-supportive business ventures.

He is also the author of two recent bestsellers “The Protein Crunch – Civilization on the brink” (June 2011) and “The Story of the Fly and how it could save the world” (December 2011).

Fly farming may be the key to our future food supply, he says. His thinking may seem revolutionary – and it is. However it is based on good science, supported by historical evidence, and his proven technologies are already making money from successful commercial ventures in the field.

He is chairman of AgriProtein which has a South African plant that produces 2 tons of fly larvae protein each week. Its “magmeal” is a natural source of protein for fish farms, thereby overcoming the concern that disappearing stocks of bait fish and fishmeal are making fish-farming unsustainable. It replaces fishmeal not only in fish farming but also in chicken farming –  where fishmeal being fed to chickens might be viewed as unnatural, contrasted with the fly as a natural insect source of protein for most birds.

Jason Drew is foremost an environmentalist  who believes he and his colleagues have harnessed the natural abilities of the Fly to recycle and break down waste and make it into a valuable protein source for industrial agricultural businesses.

“They each lay about a thousand eggs… we train the flies to lay all their eggs in one place, then we take our waste nutrients, our blood and guts from slaughterhouses, and we feed the eggs with that waste and they naturally convert that waste into larvae or maggots,” he told one ABC Radio interviewer on his recent Australian visit.

He says flies are a much misunderstood creature and have actually done their fair share for humans throughout history.

“When NASA put the first animal into space in 1953, it was indeed a fly.

“Genghis Khan would never go into battle without flies.

“People don’t really understand is that larvae are great disinfectors, they emit an antibacterial agent so that they can keep the proteins in the decaying animal on which they’re feeding for themselves.

“Genghis Khan treated the wounds of his soldiers with the fly larvae. The National Health Service in the UK is starting to use larvae again some 1200-years-later.”

Jason Drew’s  fascination with the Fly was sparked by a visit to a South African chicken farm where he was alarmed by the wasted protein, which is perfect fly-food.

He believes “the Fly has had a hell of a history and I think it’s got a great future.”

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