Whole of Scotland could be fed from protein from the gorse bush, researcher says

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A researcher suggested humans could think about using gorse for protein in the future (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
A researcher suggested humans could think about using gorse for protein in the future (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The whole of Scotland’s population could be fed using protein from the gorse bush, an invasive plant widespread in the UK, according to a leading expert.

Professor Wendy Russell said calculations showed the shrub could produce enough protein to feed millions.

It produced much less carbon dioxide emissions to make protein isolate from gorse - 4.5 to 6kg - compared to an average of 102kg for meat, she said.

Prof Russell, who leads food systems and supply for the Scottish government’s strategic research programme, said using this invasive plant for human’s protein intake was something to consider in the future.

The invasive plant was “actively being removed” from marginal land - which has little or no agricultural value, she told a Science Media Centre event on alternative proteins on Monday.

“It’s something that we can gain protein from at no extra cost - and probably at a saving,” the University of Aberdeen professor said.

Gorse is “widespread” in Scotland, where not much land is suitable for growing arable crops, she said.

Prof Russell said said: “When we did the calculations, just from active removal from marginal lands, there is enough gorse protein to easily feed our population.”

She added: “I’m not advocating that we’re ready to feed gorse to humans at this point, but it’s something that we can think about for the future.”

In 2018, scientists from the University of Oxford said going vegan was the single best way for individual to reduce their environmental impact on the planet.

Earlier this year, an analysis of food systems around the world found meat and dairy producted caused twice as many emissions as plant-based foods.

The study said beef was the most polluting meat product, making up a quarter of all animal-based food emissions.

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