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Are Many Insects Bred for Medicinal Use?

Just saying the word "cockroach" is enough to make most people's skin crawl, but there's at least one place in China where the word might as well mean "money." That place is a farm in Xichang, a city in Sichuan province, and it's there that more than 6 billion roaches call home. Luckily for the surrounding community, that monstrous mass of roaches is confined to a tightly sealed, multi-story facility that is off-limits to most people -- as well as sunlight. Inside, artificial intelligence is employed to oversee the community of roaches, which are being bred for use in extremely popular medicines sold throughout China. The cockroaches live in a damp, dark environment ideally suited for their development, and when they reach adequate size, they are mashed by machinery to produce a potion that is sold to thousands of hospitals across the country and used by millions of patients. While using roaches in traditional medicine has a long history in China, the use of AI and the colossal size of the facility are unprecedented. Dr. Zhang Wei, a former university researcher who helped develop the site, called its creation a landmark moment in pharmaceutical development. "There is nothing like it in the world," he told the South China Morning Post. "It has used some unique solutions to address some unique issues."

A dose of data about traditional Chinese medicine:

  • Traditionally, Chinese medicine includes the use of acupuncture, massage, tai chi, and other whole-body treatments.
  • Acupuncture garnered widespread American acceptance following President Nixon's 1971 visit to China, which had not had diplomatic relations with the United States during the previous 25 years.
  • The Chinese concept of yin and yang, which suggests a deep connection between the human body and nature, was developed more than 8,000 years ago.

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