A Sentience Article from All-Creatures.org

Insect Welfare: Why It Matters and How the Animal Movement Can Contribute to It

From Vanessa Gischkow Garbini, Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School
July 2022

Besides not thinking about insects when we hear the word “animals,” we also exclude them from our scope of moral consideration. We tend to just assume that insects are not sentient beings – or at least that they are not as sentient as vertebrates. 

Grasshopper... Pixabay.com

Over 99.9% of animals in the world are invertebrates. Yet, when most humans hear the word “animal” instead of thinking about a dog or a cow, we should think about an octopus, a bee or any other invertebrate, as they account for the vast majority of animals. There is an estimation that, at any time, there are some 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) individual insects alive.

If the number of insects in the world is impressive, so is the extent of human use of those animals. Exploitation of bees for their honey is an example of such. A lot has been said about the necessity of protecting bees for their function as pollinators to support life on Earth.[4] However, it is not as often said that depriving bees of their honey means denying them access to their vital nourishment.

Some products involve insect exploitation without consumers even realizing it. Silk and carmine are great examples of that. Many are not aware that silk is produced by worms and moths. Even fewer know what a horrendous practice is behind that production. In order to remove silkworms from their cocoons, where silk is, insects are boiled to death. It is estimated that, for just one meter of fabric, 3,000 to 15,000 silkworms are submitted to that extremely cruel process.[6] As to carmine, a red pigment used in the preparation of many foods, it is made from crushed bodies of cochineal insects. According to PETA, in order to produce one pound of the pigment, 70,000 beetles must be killed.

Among the many examples of insect exploitation, insect farming might be the most relevant one. Entomophagy, the practice of eating insects, has been increasing world widely, making insect farming a rapid growing industry.[8] Especially because edible insects are being considered the “food of the future,” breeding insects as livestock is raising animal welfare concerns.[10]

fried Grasshoppers
Fried Grasshoppers... Pixabay.com


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