Protein from gorse bushes could feed millions of people, says expert | Plants | The Guardian

The gorse bushes that have invaded many Scottish landscapes could produce enough protein to feed millions of people, according to the leader of a Scottish government research programme.

The surprising suggestion by Prof Wendy Russell, at the University of Aberdeen, comes from research on the protein content of invasive plants that have to be doused with herbicides or burned back to keep them under control.

Gorse contains 17% protein and broom has 21% protein, she said, adding: “Gorse and broom were fed to cattle at times when crops failed in the past, so we think protein from these types of plants could be used as animal food. If protein isolates are produced in the correct way, so to be safe, they could be considered as human food in the future.”

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) launched a polling report at the event that showed 60% of people in the UK were willing to try plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy; a third were willing to try lab-grown meat and a quarter were willing to try edible insects.

Livestock and fodder production occupies 83% of the world’s farmland but produces only 18% of protein. It also has a very heavy environmental impact, driving the climate crisis and pollution. Studies have shown sharp cuts in meat eating in rich nations are needed to halt global heating.

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