Friday, 9 October 2015

Mealworms = No plastic waste?

I read a CCN report that mealworms can live on a diet of Styrofoam and other types of plastic.

A research published in Environmental Science and Technology by co-authors Professor Jun Yang and his doctorate student Yu Yang of Beihang University, and Stanford University engineer Wei-Min Wu reported that mealworms can transform the plastic they ate into carbon dioxide, worm biomass and biodegradable waste which seemed safe to use in soil for plants and even crops.  They plan to study whether the microorganisms within mealworms, waxworms and other insects can biodegrade plastics such as polypropylene, microbeads and bioplastics.

This sounds like a good news initially, a great way to get rid of plastic waste, until I did a search and discovered some facts about mealworms from Wiki.

Do you know that mealworms are:

1) edible for humans and are considered high protein healthy snack food, baked or fried?
2) marketed as food for pets, such as, reptiles, fish, and birds?
4) fed to wild birds in bird feeders?
3) used as fishing bait?

It makes think, "What if mealworm farmers started using Styrofoam as feed on their farms? 

Styrofoam, as we know it, is polystyrene, which is a petroleum-based plastic made from the styrene monomer. What happens if mealworms fed with polystyrene are ingested by fishes and animals that we eat?

Something to think about.

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