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More people are eating bugs – but is it ethical to farm insects for food?

26 Comments
By Matan Shelomi

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Imagine the author of this article. Laying awake at night, worrying about causing an insect pain. Flattered that a mosquito would choose their blood to dine on. Watching every step that they avoid stepping on a cockroach.

And happy to let fellow humans starve to death rather than raise bugs to feed fish and other animals.

Virtue signaling at its finest!

6 ( +13 / -7 )

daniel- spot on!

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Actually @Danielsan 6:45am he’s downright buggy about the topic: “The well-being of trillions of creatures is at stake.” [!?!?!?] - Google his published papers, Twitter, and (cringe) ‘activism’.

*-@6:45am: “Imagine the author of this article. Laying awake at night, worrying about causing an insect pain. *

*[The rise in insect farming means questions about insect sentience [?!?!] and slaughter are no longer just philosophical.]*

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Sentience, pain awareness, environmental impact may all be important factors. I'm no expert, so I don't know.

It doesn't change the fact that we're talking about eating dead bodies.

No thanks.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Danielsan 06:45 am JST

Imagine the author of this article. Laying awake at night, worrying about causing an insect pain. Flattered that a mosquito would choose their blood to dine on. Watching every step that they avoid stepping on a cockroach.

And happy to let fellow humans starve to death rather than raise bugs to feed fish and other animals.

How do you know the author of this piece is "happy to let fellow humans starve to death rather than raise bugs to feed fish and other animals?"

There's no mention of this in the article. Do you have some special insight you could share?

3 ( +7 / -4 )

We are happy to kill millions of insects every year. Mosquitios, cockroaches, flies and more.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Yet @cleo 10:11am even the most skilled, clean & conscience gardener will admit we do injest a significant amount of insect proteins (& waste) in our healthy vegetables?

“eating [insect] dead bodies. No thanks” -

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Without pesticides @zichi 10:23pm ? - And, even those insects you mentioned don’t sound particularly ‘appetizing’ nor viable as a potential “food source” for fish, livestock or, directly for human consumption.

- “We are happy to kill millions of insects every year. Mosquitios, cockroaches, flies and more.” -

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

In Brazil they eat chocolate covered ants in a can. Just saying.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

How do you know the author of this piece is "happy to let fellow humans starve to death rather than raise bugs to feed fish and other animals?"

There's no mention of this in the article. Do you have some special insight you could share?

I thought the same thing. I think it’s a knee-jerk thing - article about issues like this = virtue signaling.

It might be worth remembering that people used to burn cats alive for ‘entertainment’ and cut open the chests of dogs for a brief glimpse of how hearts beat and blood circulates. These people weren’t monsters - they didn’t believe these animals were capable of feeling pain ( the shrieks were just reflex actions. A greater understanding of the nervous systems and intelligence of animals has made burning cats alive or carving open living dogs something for the psychopathic.

My take from this is the more commonsensical view that if you are going to kill anything, do it as quickly and painlessly as possible. I’m sure you don’t like the idea of boiling or grilling live octopuses ( a creature we now know is highly intelligent with a quite complex nervous system ).

I don’t see that as virtue signaling.

It might also be worth mentioning some religious sects. The Jains for one refuse to kill anything. Some other religious groups don’t eat pork, drink alcohol, take the lord’s name in vain, construct or draw images of their holy figures, drink or eat certain foods in combination etc.

By the way, I’m not a vegan, vegetarian or a religious person and I’ve eaten insects.

I just think there is a serious conversation to be had here without dismissing it as ‘virtue signaling’. It’s a kind of chest-thumping which could be described as ‘virtue signaling’.

Unhelpful.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Most of the nonmeat foodstuffs like grains, fruits, vegetables are sprayed to kill the insects from destroying the crops.

snowymountainhellToday 10:46 am JST

Without pesticides @zichi 10:23pm ? - And, even those insects you mentioned don’t sound particularly ‘appetizing’ nor viable as a potential “food source” for fish, livestock or, directly for human consumption.

I didn't suggest that we eat mosquitios, cockroaches... but we are happy to kill them and stop them from spreading diseases.

So the moral ethical point would be is it wrong to kill insects? There are about 200 million insects for every human being.

There are many eatable insects. Locust, crickets, they can be feed to other animals too.

I try not to kill the useful insects like spiders. I just put them outside when I see them. But others are a constant battle like cockroaches and white ants. We have cockroach killers around the edge of the rooms but last night a very large one ran across the dinner table while we were eating. It also got away.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

We also kill many small mammals like mice and rats. Recently, in South West Australia there was a huge plague of mice. Millions of them over running the farms and grain silos all of which can no longer be consummed by people.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/australias-plague-of-mice-is-devastating-and-could-get-a-lot-worse/

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Thanks for the response @zichi 11:06am almost time for lunch. - Those edible “locusts”, are they the same as these Japanese ”cicadas” we hear all summer? Point is we’re grilling prawns outdoors today (crustaceans: scavengers/‘carrion eaters’ of the seas) and a cicada just landed next to the grill. (It looks pesticide-free, still alive.)

- “There are many eatable insects. Locust, crickets, they can be feed to other animals too.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

snowymountainhell

Thanks for the response @zichi 11:06am almost time for lunch. - Those edible “locusts”, are they the same as these Japanese ”cicadas” we hear all summer?

No locust and cicadas are different insects. In a countryside places like Nagano they deep fry locusts into crisps.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

 even the most skilled, clean & conscience gardener will admit we do injest a significant amount of insect proteins (& waste) in our healthy vegetables?

You don’t wash your veggies???

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Yeah, it's ethical, but I'll stick to steak...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

You don’t wash your veggies???

Does your local okonomiyaki shop washes their cabbage? I dunno.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I can’t say I’d rather starve to death than eat insects, but I’d certainly prefer to miss out on quite a few dinners before tucking in to a few tasty worms or cockroaches. And in those circumstances, I wouldn’t care much about the ethics of it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

There's really no physical reason why we humans should not take advantage of an abundant protein source like insects. But admittedly there is a big psychological barrier. That said, the use of insects in various places all over the world as a food although limited in scope proves that it can be overcome.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Sure, eat insects, live in a cube, live your entire life on an annual subscription model, make do with the government monthly allowance, dystopia is here.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

We were taught in survival training that if we were ever shot down and had to make do off the land, we were strongly encouraged to consider eating bugs. Easier to catch than vertebrates or fish. Fortunately I never had to go there. As for ethical killing of bugs, bugs in the home bug me. The ants I killed off the other day writhed in agony for a good long time before succumbing to the ant pellets I used. Was that unethical?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Due to the silly title I can't even be bothered to read the article, just came straight to the comments.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Does your local okonomiyaki shop washes their cabbage?

Dunno what the local okonomiyaki shop does with its cabbages (the use of other ingredients mean I’m not a customer), and I’m not so sure about skilled, but as a reasonably clean and conscientious gardener I make sure everything that makes its way from my garden or allotment to my dinner table is free of all dead bodies. Not to mention not-dead bodies.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I heard that Japanese burger patties were made from meal worms. Not sure if that is true but it the food industry can crush insects and use then in food without your knowledge that is really disgusting, I wouldn't want to eat insects.... also if your vegetarian eating insect is NG

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Not a real beef patty, worm burger used meal worms, minced oninions, added flour, a scrable egg and blended in milk. Yummy burger

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

You first. I'll pass.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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