Stephanie Rogers at the Entocycle Lab
In the face of the rising global demand for food and many sources linking deforestation of the Amazon to the cultivation of soy, we look at the future of nutrition. According to some, science is our best pathway to confront these challenges and the biotechnology industry is booming.
This week, we caught up with one of our new partners – a leading light in sustainable biotechnology. Find out how Entocycle’s innovative business model can help solve some of the world’s most critical issues in our interview below with scientist, Stephanie Rogers.
IL: What you do is unique, can you share with us what led you to your current career?
SR: Thank you! I’ve always been in love with the biology of small things since I had my first bug jar as a toddler. I worked towards studying Biological Sciences at university and then Conservation for masters. After completing a year as an Ecologist for an infrastructure firm, I was disappointed by the lack of insect mitigation opportunities and lack of conservation efficiency in the sector in the general. I felt like my efforts were best spent elsewhere. I knew that insects were the building-blocks of food webs, so I decided to work on a butterfly conservation park in Laos. As soon as I got back to England, I knew that the insect world was the one I would spend the rest of my life involved in. Then I came across Entocycle, which is the perfect blend of sustainability, conservation and insect science.
IL: Entocycle has attracted an enormous amount of press attention recently, can you explain what exactly the company does?
SR: Entocycle blends the forefront of insect biology with inventive engineering. It’s a unique mission that works on developing industrial technology that will revolutionise insect feed globally. The reason we have this goal is because insect protein is incredibly valuable and efficient. We powder the larvae and can get around 60% protein which is higher than any other meat on the menu. They are also fed on food waste, which tackles our waste problem and reduces the greenhouse gas methane’s release into the atmosphere.
The aim is to feed insect protein to farmed animals like salmons, chicken and pigs, to replace fishmeal, which causes overfishing and soymeal which causes deforestation, both contributing to ecosystem collapse. It’s a huge environmental mission.
IL: Entocycle is obviously ahead of the curve, but do you think the biotechnology sector is changing? What are your predictions for the future?
SR: Yes, I do think that there’s pressure across many industries, including biotechnology, to become more sustainable. It isn’t happening fast enough to stop climate change and extinction, but it’s hopeful that the world is waking up and so many people want to see change. And the sector is changing with the public outlook. Biotechnologies take a lot of time and money to get to a mature and profitable stage, but I predict that there will be more funding and more revolutionary ideas for sustainable research as the pressure builds up. And the insect protein sector is coming faster than you think.
IL: The biotechnology industry is traditionally male dominated. As a female scientist, what advice would you give young women looking at their future career path?
SR: I know it’s cheesy but follow something that you enjoy, and you are more likely to excel in it. People that enjoy their work are happy, infectious and inventive. It will also affect the amount of extra training and networking you want to seek. Also, some women lack in confidence. Be prepared to push past your comfort zone. If you struggle with this, consider getting involved with public outreach and speaking classes. Walk around with your head held high and own it.
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