Over one million cockroaches escaped from a farm in the Chinese provence Jiangsu after an "unknown perpetrator" damaged the facility, reports Agence France Presse. The incident has drawn attention to the growth of bug farming in China, where the insects are used medicinally.
Insect farming is gaining supporters in the Americas and Europe as a sustainable food source, but in China entrepreneurs are already cashing in on cockroach breeding. Quartz's Gwynn Guilford reports on the growing demand for roaches:
"It turns out China has a booming trade in cockroaches that can earn as much as 1200 yuan per kilogram, or $89 per pound. The roaring roach trade began when a Yunnan medical professor noticed elderly ethnic minorities in the area’s mountains pulverizing roaches to cure bone tuberculosis. It took more than a decade of research, but he eventually figured out what they were up to, patenting roach powder as a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) ingredient and cooperating with what’s now perhaps the biggest world’s biggest producer of medicinal raw cockroach-related materials. The powder is used to treat cirrhosis, breast cancer and other ailments, and reputedly also has anti-aging effects."Read the full story here.
Kits and how-to guides, like the DVD below, provide instruction for starting your own cockroach or ground beetle farm.
I'm not entirely sure if there are implications for the insects-as-sustainable-food movement in the success of China's insect farms. It seems that a strong economic incentive is key to China's booming bug business.