Current animal protein production is dependent on natural resources in the ocean (fishmeal), which makes it vulnerable to climate change and population growth, and incompatible with space exploration. Therefore, there is an urgent need to secure sustainable unused resources that can replace fishmeal. In this project, we aim to establish insects that can convert crop residues and food wastes into useful animal proteins as raw materials for fish and livestock feed to replace fishmeal, and to utilize them as a new biological resource to support human food, health, and the environment. Furthermore, we will develop an insect production system that can be adapted to any environment on earth and advance it into a recycling food production system that supports the safe and secure food and health of human in space.
In this project, six sub-projects have been set up to conduct complementary and synergistic research and development with each other in order to ensure the achievement of the objectives. First, we will conduct "genomic breeding" to increase the added value and productivity of crickets and black soldier flies, which will serve as the basis for all subprojects (Subproject 1). The insects produced in this way will be used to construct a platform for converting crop residues and food wastes into protein sources for livestock, fish farming, and humans (subprojects 2, 3, and 4). Also, we will make this platform applicable to extreme environments and space (subproject 5). All of these sub-projects will receive support for "social implementation" through outreach activities and venture creation (sub-project 6). These six sub-projects will be implemented in parallel and will contribute to the spread and development of "insect-based food production" to solve the global food problems that are looming in the near future.

Subproject 1:
Insect Genome Breeding

The goal of this subproject is to produce crickets and black soldier flies that are large, grow quickly, have low rates of inbreeding, cannibalism, and disease, and are safe and nutritious. In the history of mankind, only silkworm and honeybee have been established as domesticated insects, and this project proposes the realization of domestication of crickets and black soldier flies through genomic breeding. In addition, we will promote the industrialization of domesticated insect production by integrating and organizing databases of genetic information, phenotypes, and nutritional values of crickets and water bugs.

Subproject 2:
Development of Eco-friendly Insect Production Systems

Based on the concept of "One Health", we aim to construct a plant-cricket hybrid food production system that enables the supply of safe and secure food while maintaining the health of animals, plants, and the environment. To achieve this goal, this subproject will develop materials for a portable, energy-saving food production system, as well as sensors and actuators necessary for full automation. We will also develop an eco-feed for crickets derived from crop or food residues that does not compete with livestock feed.

Subproject 3:
Development of Insect-derived Fishery and Livestock Feed

The goal of this project is to utilize high-quality crickets and black soldier flies as a safe and inexpensive alternative feed for fishmeal. For this purpose, this subproject will develop advanced processing technologies for crickets and black soldier flies to prevent the loss of nutritional and functional components. Furthermore, through the understanding of the digestion mechanism of insect proteins in marine fish, we will design optimized feeds. At the same time, we will also develop technology to prevent contamination of bottom sediment in aquaculture farms through real-time monitoring of the bottom sediment environment.

Subproject 4:
Cricket-Based Food Development

The goal of this project is to utilize crickets as a safe and highly functional food source. To achieve this goal, this subproject will evaluate the safety of crickets, verify their nutritional functionality, and conduct research and development on food processing technology to add functionality while ensuring safety. For example, we will analyze allergenic substances and apply genome editing technology to create low-allergen crickets. We will also develop functional food that support the health of the elderly and patients with digestive disorders.

Subproject 5:
Development of Elemental Technologies for Space Exploration

The goal of this project is to develop the elemental technologies necessary for a food production system that will support human advancement into space. For this purpose, this subproject will produce varieties of crickets and black soldier flies that are resistant to extreme environments such as zero gravity, cosmic rays, and low oxygen. Furthermore, we will develop a fully automated space eco-farm by simultaneously developing energy-saving information and communication devices, IoT software, and research and development on full automation of production and processing with advanced artificial intelligence technology and high cyber security capabilities.

Subproject 6:
Social Implementation

The goal of this project is to create social innovations to establish the insect-based food industry in society. To this end, this subproject will send appropriate information and provide outreach activities for research results in emerging fields. Furthermore, we will build a system to actively implement venture creation and overseas expansion based on research seeds. From the perspective of fostering the next generation of human resources and creating new industries, we will also provide support for the creation of start-ups.