There are a considerable number of rules and regulations that need to be kept in mind when growing or selling black soldier flies and derived products. Complaining about bureaucratic ineptitudes and red tape is fun; furthermore, it has certain therapeutic value. However, from early taboos to modern thousand-page-long legislative bills, rules and regulations have been helping to maintain a somewhat orderly development of human civilization throughout history. Plus, regardless of individual opinions, they must be obeyed in order to stay in business.
Specific rules and regulations vary widely among different jurisdictions and need to be researched on a case-by-case basis. Broadly speaking, the following issues should be paid attention to:
- Black soldier flies need to be approved for use as animal feeds. In the USA, for example, they can be fed to poultry, salmonid fishes, and pigs. At this point in time, they cannot be fed to cows, goats, horses, etc. Moreover, in order to qualify as an animal feed in the USA, black soldier flies must be fed on materials that are themselves approved as animal feeds. So, spent brewer grain or kitchen waste is fine, but manure is not.
- There are tolerance limits for various biological and chemical contaminants. Harvested black soldier flies marketed for animal feed cannot be loaded with pathogens, heavy metals, mycotoxins, and so on. The same applies to black soldier fly frass marketed as a fertilizer.
- There are specific requirements for the disposal of certain types of waste. For example, farm animals dying of infectious diseases are unlikely to be permitted as larval food for obvious epidemiological reasons.
- Production facilities beyond a backyard trough full of maggots may need to be registered and inspected by appropriate authorities. Some interesting discussions may arise whether a black soldier fly insectary should be treated more like a pig farm or more like a pharmaceutical biotechnology plant.
- There are tolerance limits for emissions. Although insect farming is an environmentally friendly technology that contributs to developing circular agriculture, some pollutants like carbon dioxide and ammonia are still generated. These should not exceed set amounts.
- There are zoning laws and regulations on what can be done where. It is hard to believe, but not everyone wants to live next door to a bug (or a pig) farm.
- Black soldier fly may not be officially considered a domestic animal. Consequently, it may fall under the restrictions imposed by laws against keeping and trafficking wildlife.
- While currently widespread around the world, black soldier fly is originally a North American species. As such, it is not native in other areas. Therefore, regulations against moving and introducing potentially invasive species may apply.
As black soldier fly industry grows and develops, so will the body of laws and regulations that surround their use. Also, applications of black soldier fly products are likely to expand to include biodiesel, biopolymers, industrial lubricants, and biologically active molecules. These will be regulated differently, and some of the restrictions imposed on the insects designated for feed and fertilizer may not apply to them.