The 6,000 million cockroaches that China grows in giant farms every year

The 6,000 million cockroaches that China grows in giant farms every year

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Although for many the cockroaches are unpleasant insects, for the Chinese industry they are a business opportunity due to their supposed medicinal properties.

Fried cockroaches have been consumed in China and other Asian countries for years, but now they are produced on a large scale.

A farm operated by a pharmaceutical company has an annual production of 6,000 million adult cockroaches.

It is located in the city of Xichang, in the southwest of the country.

Artificial intelligence

The insects are raised in a building of a size equivalent to that of two sports fields , according to the description of the South China Morning Post.

Inside there are narrow rows of shelves with open containers with food and water.

The atmosphere is warm, humid and dark.

Dish made with cockroaches
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES image

Image caption Besides being consumed as food, products derived from cockroaches are increasingly used in Chinese hospitals.

Inside the farm, insects have the “freedom” to move around to look for food and reproduce , but they can not go out and never see the sunlight.

An Artificial Intelligence system controls the hatchery , regulating a series of variables such as temperature, humidity conditions and available food.

We are trying to find new medicines for the elderly and these are generally cheaper than the western ones “

Liu Yusheng, Shandong Agricultural University

The goal is to reproduce as quickly as possible.

Medicinal use

Once they reach adulthood, the cockroaches are crushed and processed to make a potion commonly used by traditional Chinese medicine.

This product with fishy aroma and sweet taste is called Kangfuxin.

It is used to treat gastroenteritis , duodenal ulcers and respiratory conditions , among other diseases.

Cockroach
Copyright of the SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY image

Image caption Insects are crushed and processed to make a potion commonly used by traditional Chinese medicine.

“They really are a miracle drug ,” Liu Yusheng, a professor at Shandong Agricultural University and director of the Insect Association of Shandong Province , told The Telegraph newspaper .

“They can cure a series of ailments and they work much faster than other medicines, ” he added.

Alternative “cheap”

“China has the problem of aging population,” explained Professor Liu.

” We are trying to find new drugs for the elderly and these are generally cheaper than the western ones,” he said.

Cockroaches
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES image

Image caption Experts warn of the catastrophic effects to the environment of an eventual escape of the insects bred in captivity.

Although the production of cockroaches for medicinal purposes is driven by the government and the use of derived products is frequent in hospitals there are those who express their concerns.

” This potion is not a panacea , it does not have a magic power against all diseases,” a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing told the South China Morning Post , which asked to keep her name on reserve.

Similar concentration of insects, as well as breeding, in captivity carry risks .

It would be “catastrophic” if billions of cockroaches were released into the environment, either by human error or an earthquake, Professor Zhu Chaodong of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing explained to the same newspaper.

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