Protein from gorse, a widely-cleared plant in Scotland, could be used to provide a food source for millions of people, according to the Rowett Institute's Professor Wendy Russell.
Gorse and broom have been used as animal food when crops have failed in the past and Professor Russell suggests that if protein isolates are produced in the correct way, so to be safe, they could be considered as human food in the future.
Professor Russell made the suggestion, which follows research on the protein content of invasive plants, at a Science Media Centre event looking at alternative proteins.
She said: “We have a huge amount of gorse all over Scotland and when we did the calculations, just by active removal from marginal land, there’s enough gorse protein to easily feed the country’s population.
“Livestock and fodder production occupies around 83% of the world’s farmland but produces only around 18% of its protein. It also has a very heavy environmental impact, driving the climate crisis and pollution. Studies have shown sharp cuts in meat eating in developed nations are needed to halt global warming.
“We need to change our diets and using protein isolate from gorse is a sustainable way which produces much less carbon dioxide than faming animals.