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Article  Insect farming is booming. But is it cruel? (sci's history of idiocy regarding pain)

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Insect farming is booming. But is it cruel?

EXCERPT: . . . Insect farming is booming in a major way. By one estimate, between 1 trillion and 1.2 trillion insects are raised on farms each year as companies race to find a high-protein, low-carbon way to feed animals and humans. In terms of sheer numbers of animals impacted, this is a transformation of a speed and scale that we’ve never seen before.

It’s a weird twist in our already strange relationship with bugs. We squash them, spray them, eat them, and crush them to make pretty dyes. But we also fret about plummeting wild insect populations and rely on them to pollinate the crops we eat. And with the industrialization of insect farming, bugs are being offered up as a solution to the human-caused climate crisis. But before we go down that route, we need to ask some really basic questions about insects. Can they feel? And if so, what should we do about it?

“We’re at the starting point of a conversation about insect welfare,” says Jonathan Birch, a philosopher at the London School of Economics. One of the key questions here is whether insects are sentient and have the capacity to feel pain and suffer. Pigs, chickens, and fish are already widely recognized as sentient. In 2021, Birch wrote a report that led to the UK government recognizing sentience in squid and octopuses, as well as crabs, lobsters, and all vertebrate animals. Research on insect sentience is much more patchy. There are more than a million known insect species and only a handful have ever been studied to see whether they can feel pain.

Finding out whether another being can feel pain is really difficult, even when it comes to humans. Until the mid-1980s babies in the US were routinely operated on with little or no anesthesia, due to the mistaken belief that very young infants were incapable of perceiving pain. In one famous case, a premature baby in Maryland born in 1985 underwent open heart surgery without any anesthesia at all. When Jill Lawson, the boy’s mother, later questioned her doctors, she was told that premature babies couldn’t feel pain—a scientific misunderstanding that was later overturned partly thanks to the campaigning of people like Lawson.

If scientists can misunderstand pain in humans for so long, what hope do we have in figuring it out in insects? When searching for answers, there are a handful of signs researchers look for... (MORE - missing details)

World's first octopus farm proposals alarm scientists

INTRO: A plan to build the world's first octopus farm has raised deep concerns among scientists over the welfare of the famously intelligent creatures.

The farm in Spain's Canary Islands would raise about a million octopuses annually for food, according to confidential documents seen by the BBC.

They have never been intensively farmed and some scientists call the proposed icy water slaughtering method "cruel."

The Spanish multinational behind the plans denies the octopuses will suffer.

The confidential planning proposal documents from the company, Nueva Pescanova, were given to the BBC by the campaign organisation Eurogroup for Animals... (MORE - details)

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