In China, cockroach farming has become a booming new industry. Many people in the Shandong Provence eat the bug as part of their diet, but now it’s in demand from pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The Los Angeles Times reports that even among the Chinese, “the industry was little known until August, when a million cockroaches got out of a farm in neighboring Jiangsu province. The Great Escape made headlines around China and beyond, evoking biblical images of swarming locusts.”
Li Shunan, a 78-year-old professor of traditional medicine from the southwestern province of Yunnan, who is considered the godfather of cockroach research, said “Cockroaches are survivors … We want to know what makes them so strong — why they can even resist nuclear effects.”
They are reportedly being used in treating baldness, AIDS, cancer and as a vitamin supplement. However, there are already acceptable treatments for these diseases that do not involve the farming of cockroaches which are still using land resources to be raised, and are a nuisance when they escape.
Many of the aforementioned articles speak to the cockroach farmer’s livelihood and how it’s a great way for people to make money. However, even China’s leading cockroach farmer cautions against the industry growing too fast and with little regulation. Just as protein rich bug flour might not be the best solution for world hunger, cockroach medicine might not be the breakthrough we should be working toward.