PLANS to feed schoolchildren bugs as part of a scientific experiment to test alternatives to traditional meat products have been slammed by politicians.
The plans to feed schoolchildren insects at four undisclosed primary schools in Wales are part of an experiment being conducted by Cardiff University and the University of the West of England which hopes to gauge youngsters’ appetite for “alternative proteins.”
Children will reportedly be given the chance to try a variety of alternative proteins in the hope that children will begin to think about alternatives to “conventional” meat as a real option for now, not just the future.
Among these options is “VeXo”, a mince like substance which is made from a combination of insect and plant-based protein.
The study will use surveys, workshops, interviews and focus groups to explore young people’s understandings and experiences of alternative proteins.
Conservative Shadow Education minister Laura Anne Jones MS has written to Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, expressing ‘astonishment’ that such a study is being allowed.
Ms Jones called in her letter for the Education Minister to step in “to ensure our children are protected, parents are well-informed and that there is a choice to take part, and not mandatory enforcement”.
Researchers have stressed however, that they will not be forcing children to eat insects. But they hope to be able to offer a range of alternative proteins to try, if children wish to do so, as long as they have written parental consent.
Verity Jones from the University of the West of England in Bristol, who is involved in the study, said: “Everyone eats insects everyday – there’s over 30 parts of bugs in every 100g of chocolate … bread, fruit juices, hops … you name it, you’re eating insects.
“All research, for adults and children, indicates whole insects are off-putting, but ground-up insects within foods are very acceptable.
“No one likes the idea of having a crunchy bit of wing or antenna between their teeth. But, in fact, children were more likely to choose food containing edible insects over usual meat products on a matter of sustainable credentials if given the option,” she said.
However, Minister Laura Anne Jones has said: “It is absolutely ludicrous that young children are being used as guinea pigs to test the absurd desires of scientists who prefer bugs to beef.
“The Labour Government need to answer questions about how this was allowed to happen, did they sanction this, have parents been made aware, can children say no in favour of proper food, and why the sustainable nature of Welsh farming is being undermined like this.
“We know the challenges of climate change and proposals to diversify diets, but that does not mean a handful of zealots can impose their way of life on an uninterested populace, especially children, without proper and genuine consent.
“I look forward to the Minister’s reply where he will hopefully put an end to this nonsense.”
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