A factory in China has mastered the art of mass-producing cockroaches, with fears this could lead to a new breed of ‘super cockroach’. A multi-storey building larger than two sports fields churns out the cockroaches at an incredible rate, more than 22 million a day. The facility rears six billion of the critters every year, using AI software to become ever more efficient. The roaches are used in traditional Chinese medicine to create a ‘healing potion’ which is prescribed by doctors. There are fears over what would happen if the colony escaped. With one expert warning it would be a catastrophe for the 8 lakh-people living nearby.
This facility breeds the animals in vast quantities and in such idealistic conditions that there are concerns it could be accidentally creating a super breed. Dr Zhang Wei, former assistant researcher at the College of Mechanical Engineering at Zhejiang University, who was involved in the development of the system, told the South China Morning Post, “There is nothing like it in the world. It has used some unique solutions to address some unique issues”. Professor Zhu Chaodong, lead scientist at the Institute of Zoology in insect evolution studies at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing said that this is unlikely to happen. However, he added it would be a catastrophe if the plant was to malfunction and billions of cockroaches were released.
This enormous roach-producing factory is designed to mass produce the Chinese healing potion from crushed cockroaches. After reaching maturity, the insects are fed to a machine that grinds up the animals to make the potion. The key and only ingredient is believed by many natives to have healing powers for several ailments, including stomach pain. The potion is marketed as tasting ‘slightly sweet’ and having a ‘slightly fishy smell’. More than 4,000 hospitals get their supply of the healing potion from the cockroach metropolis in Xichang. A 100ml bottle of the unique medicine will cost around 50 yaun (eight dollars)
Cockroaches are notoriously durable and are believed to have existed since the age of dinosaurs. With their hard-wearing ability and rapid rate of proliferation, the animals could feasibly destroy a town if the weather conditions were right. The building is under lock and key 24/7. Access is highly restricted as the building relies on maintaining a very specific set of conditions.