Exploring The Massive, Strange, And Potentially Cruel World Of Insect Farming

The global need for bugs is rising for a number of important reasons. Exploring The Massive, Strange, And Potentially Cruel World Of Insect Farming Giphy

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I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but people are starting to predict that we’re going to start eating a lot more bugs in the future. Whether due to climate change, overpopulation, or a cultural shift away from slaughterhouses, bugs are being touted as a high-protein replacement for traditional meat.

Insects are already being used extensively in the creation of animal food, and the market is only growing larger by the day. That means there’s a huge need for more bugs … and a relatively new type of farm is starting to become more popular.

What to know about the industry

Whether you think they’re cool or icky, you already know that bugs are all around us. And people have been eating them in some form or another since the dawn of humanity.

But now that industrialized farms are popping up around the world, it’s a good time to take a glimpse at what that entails.

  • More than 1 trillion insects are currently being raised on farms.
  • France’s Ynsect makes about 200,000 metric tons of bug-based products annually.
  • Other major operations are underway in the U.S., Denmark, and the Netherlands.

The ethical dilemma

Many people choose a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle in protest of the way animals are raised and slaughtered in order to produce meat-based foods. A growing number of ethicists are now highlighting similar concerns about insects.

It might be easy to dismiss bugs as simply incapable of feeling pain — but believe it or not, doctors generally thought the same thing about young babies until about the mid-1980s.

While many animals are already classified as sentient, advocates are busy working to decide whether insects should receive the same classification and, if so, what measures should be taken to ensure that they’re treated humanely in global farming operations.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee March 20th, 2023
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