On 17th March 2021, Associate Professor Dr Sheela Jayabalan from the Faculty of Law, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia (UiTMLaw) was invited to share her expert insight on food security in a webinar organised by the committee members of the International Journal of Regional, Rural and Remote Law and Policy, a journal issued by the University New England, Australia.
The theme of the webinar was ‘Legal Development Paths for Food, New Food and Food Innovations: Challenges and Proposals for Food Security from a Regional, Rural and Remote Law and Policy Perspective’.
In conjunction with the webinar’s theme, Associate Professor Dr Sheela Jayabalan presented on the area of entomophagy entitled ‘Old or New Food, Its time for a Better Food Regulation for Insects as Food in Malaysia’.
She highlighted that insects are thought of as pests most of the time rather than as a source of food. Nonetheless, insects have been known to be eaten by natives from all over the world, including Malaysia.
“Even during prehistoric times, entomophagy was regarded as a common practice among royalties. Insects have also been consumed, unwittingly, as impurities. It is an exciting fact that eating insects is currently being considered an alternate source of food to avert food insecurity, especially in developing countries. On the other hand, in some developed countries, for example, in the European Union countries, insects are thought of as a novel food,” she said.
Regardless of whether entomophagy is considered an alternate source of food or novel food, Associate Professor Dr Sheela Jayabalan stressed the significance of legal intervention to regulate insects as food in Malaysia. The regulation should encompass the aspects of breeding, harvesting, packaging and safety standards. She concluded that it is high time to strengthen the country’s legal framework on food security, particularly on alternative food, to ensure resilient and sustainable food security in the long run.