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Thread: Weird stuff in TCM...... List it!

  1. #91
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    6B cockroaches

    Do cockroaches need their own indie thread here? Cuz TCM is that weird?

    A Chinese farm is breeding 6 billion cockroaches a year for medicine


    Just don't think about what's in it. (Flickr user ZoomyPhotography (Ciaran Dundson))

    WRITTEN BY Zheping Huang
    April 20, 2018

    To most people, cockroaches are disgusting pests. To some, the insects are delicious fried snacks. To a few people, they are medicine.

    A Chinese farm is breeding 6 billion adult cockroaches a year for medicinal use, the first time in human history that so many of the insects have been bred and confined in an indoor space, according to a report published this week by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (SCMP).

    The farm, operated by pharmaceutical company Gooddoctor in Xichang city in southwestern China, is equipped with rows of shelves lined with open containers of food and water in a concrete building covering an area of about two sports fields, according to the SCMP. It is kept warm, humid, and dark all year around, with an AI-powered system tracking how individual cockroaches are growing.

    Cockroach-rearing is a booming industry in China—pulverized roach powder is patented as a Traditional Chinese Medicine ingredient and cosmetics companies use the insects as a cheap source of protein. There were about 100 large-scale cockroach farms in China in 2013, and farmers could earn as much as $20 a pound, the Los Angeles Times reported at the time. In the case of the Xichang facility, the world’s biggest cockroach farm, the insects are made into a liquid concoction that millions of Chinese patients use to treat respiratory, gastric, and other illnesses with doctor prescriptions, the SCMP said citing a local government report. A bottle of 100 ml of the medicine costs about $4.

    Apparently people consuming the medicine may not even know that it’s almost entirely made of cockroaches, because Gooddoctor only lists the ingredient as Periplaneta americana, the scientific name of the American cockroach—the reddish-brown insect that can fly when mature. One patient told the SCMP, “This is knowledge I’d rather live without.”

    If, because of a human error or an earthquake, millions of cockroaches are released into nature, it would be a disaster for the near-800,000 inhabitants in Xichang and beyond. In 2013, about a million cockroaches escaped from a farm in southeastern China after someone sabotaged a nursery that was breeding the insects. Local authorities conducted a “large-scale disinfection” and urged residents to stay calm. Local authorities claimed (link in Chinese) that they properly handled the incident.

    heh heh. roaches on 420.
    Gene Ching
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  2. #92
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    This has the makings of an epic apocalyptic movie..

    ...or a terrifying reality.


    A giant indoor farm in China is breeding 6 billion cockroaches a year. Here's why

    The Post turns a spotlight on the ‘disgusting’ insect with apparently remarkable medicinal qualities at the world’s largest breeding facility, where the bugs outnumber the planet’s human population
    PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 April, 2018, 9:02am
    UPDATED : Thursday, 19 April, 2018, 11:42pm
    Stephen Chen
    https://www.facebook.com/Stephen.Chen.SCMP


    This photo provided by PolyPEDAL Lab UC Berkeley, shows the compressible robot, CRAM with a real cockroach. When buildings collapse in future disasters, the hero helping rescue trapped people may be a cheap robotic roach. Repulsive as they seem, cockroaches have the unusual ability to squish their bodies down to one quarter their normal size, yet still scamper at lightning speed. Add to that, the common roach can withstand 900 times its own body weight without being hurt. That’s the equivalent to a 200-pound man who wouldn’t be crushed 90 tons on his head. (PolyPEDAL Lab UC Berkeley/Tom Libby, Kaushik Jayaram and Pauline Jennings via AP)

    Long, narrowly spaced rows of shelves fill a multi-storey building about the size of two sports fields. The shelves are lined with open containers of food and water.

    It is warm, humid and dark all year round, with freedom to roam to find food and reproduce. Fully sealed like a prison, it has strict limitations on access to visitors. From birth to death, inhabitants never see the sun.

    The world’s largest cockroach farm is breeding 6 billion adult cockroaches a year and using artificial intelligence to manage a colony larger than the world’s human population – all for medicinal use.

    It is part of the production process for a “healing potion” consumed by millions of patients in China, according to the government.

    There are many cockroach breeding facilities in China, for use as an ingredient in medicine or as a source of protein for livestock feed. But no other facility can match the productivity of the farm in the city of Xichang, in southwestern Sichuan province.


    Gooddoctor Pharmaceutical Group’s cockroach farm in Xichang. Photo: HANDOUT

    Nearly 28,000 full-sized cockroaches per square foot are produced there annually, the Sichuan government said in a report submitted to Beijing early this year.

    It is the first time in history so many cockroaches have been confined and bred in one space. The project had achieved so many “scientific and technological breakthroughs” that it deserved a national science award, the provincial government said.

    The facility achieved its unrivalled efficiency partly by being controlled by a “smart manufacturing” system powered by artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, according to the report.

    The system constantly collects and analyses more than 80 categories of “big data”, including humidity, temperature, food supply and consumption. It monitors changes such as genetic mutations and how these affect the growing rates of individual cockroaches.

    AI is transforming China in many sectors, from powerful facial recognition systems capable of identifying 1.3 billion citizens in seconds to nuclear submarines that can help a captain make faster, more accurate decisions in combat.

    In the cockroach farm, the AI system learns from past work, self-adjusting to improve cockroach production.

    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.”

    Rustling in the darkness

    Zhang confirmed the use of AI technology in the project but declined to give details.

    The farm is operated by the Gooddoctor Pharmaceutical Group of Chengdu, Sichuan, which confirmed the validity of the government document but could not answer the Post’s queries because the matter involved trade secrets.

    According to a 2011 report by the government newspaper Guangming Daily, a visitor must change into a sanitised working suit to avoid bringing in pollutants or pathogens.

    “There were very few human beings in the facility,” the article stated. On shelves, floors and ceiling, the cockroaches were “everywhere”.

    “Hold your breath and (you) only hear a rustling sound,” it continued. “Whenever flashlights swept, the cockroaches fled. Wherever the beam landed, there was a sound like wind blowing through leaves.

    “It was just like standing in the depths of a bamboo forest in late autumn. The cool breeze blows, and the leaves rustle.”

    Could super-breed terrorise a city?

    The sheer number of insects locked in the facility – the largest colony of cockroaches ever to have existed on the planet – conjures some nightmarish scenarios.
    Every cockroach is a super-cockroach. Mother Nature has already done its job. There is little room left for us to make improvementsPROFESSOR ZHU CHAODONG, CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
    Professor Zhu Chaodong, the Institute of Zoology’s lead scientist in insect evolution studies at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, said it would be a “catastrophe” if billions of cockroaches were suddenly released into the environment – be it through human error or a natural disaster like an earthquake that damaged the building.

    To Xichang’s near-800,000 inhabitants, one such accident could be “terrifying”, Zhu said. The farm is also located close to Xichang’s Qingshan airport.

    “Multiple lines of defence must be in place and work properly to prevent the disaster of accidental release,” Zhu said.

    Cockroaches multiply rapidly in a suitable environment, said Zhu. Given Xichang’s warm climate and ample rainfall, a dozen of them could infest an entire neighbourhood.

    There are also concerns that the farm’s intensive reproduction and genetic screening would accelerate the insect’s evolution and produce “super-cockroaches”, of abnormal size and breeding capability, although Zhu said this was unlikely to happen.

    Cockroaches are believed to have been around since the dinosaurs, surviving extreme environmental conditions that brought extinction for other species.

    “Every cockroach is a super-cockroach,” Zhu said. “Mother Nature has already done its job. There is little room left for us to make improvements.”

    Creating the potion

    At the time of the government report, the farm had generated a total of 4.3 billion yuan (US$684 million) in revenue over the years by manufacturing a potion made entirely of cockroaches.

    When they reach the desired weight and size, the cockroaches are fed into machines and crushed to make the potion, which had “remarkable effects” on stomach pain and other ailments, said the provincial government.

    The potion has a tea-like colour, tastes “slightly sweet” and has “a slightly fishy smell”, according to the product’s packaging.

    More than 40 million patients with respiratory, gastric and other diseases were cured after taking the potion on doctors’ prescriptions, according to the official report, which stated that the farm was selling it to more than 4,000 hospitals across the country.

    The miracle-like cure

    Cockroach has been an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. In some rural areas in southern China, infants are still occasionally fed cockroaches mixed with garlic to treat fever caused by an infection or upset stomach.

    The Chinese government financed nationwide studies into cockroaches’ medical value that, after more than two decades of laboratory investigation and clinical trials, had discovered or confirmed dozens of disease-fighting proteins and biochemical compounds with huge potential value in medicine.

    Thousands of pages of Chinese medical journals have detailed findings suggesting the rejuvenating effect of the cockroach potion. It could stimulate regrowth of damaged tissues such as skin and mucosa, the sticky membrane on the surface of internal organs that is difficult to heal and causes chronic pain.

    Patients suffering burns or serious stomach inflammations recovered faster with the potion treatment than without, according to numerous studies.

    “The potion is not a panacea – it does not have a magic power against all diseases,” said a researcher experienced in cockroach-related medicines at the Institute of Materia Medica at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS) in Beijing.

    “But its effect on certain symptoms is well established, and confirmed by molecular science and large-scale hospital applications.”
    continued next post
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  3. #93
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    Continued from previous post

    Patients learn the Latin

    There is a potentially major disadvantage to the potion, according to the CAMS researcher, who requested not to be named. “The source of raw material, to most people, is disgusting,” she said. “That is an important reason why the use of the potion is not found in other countries.

    “Even in China, most patients might not know the liquid came from cockroaches.”

    The potion is not for sale over the counter, but the Post has bought it in a drug store in Beijing without being asked for a doctor’s prescription.


    Bottles of Gooddoctor products. Photo: HANDOUT

    A pack containing two bottles of 100ml cost a bit more than 50 yuan (US$8).

    On the packaging and in the user instructions, only one ingredient was listed: Periplaneta americana, the Latin name of the American cockroach, one of the largest cockroach species.

    The internet has played host to lively discussions about the medicine, known as kangfuxin ye, or “potion of recovery”.

    “I searched for Periplaneta americana when drinking the potion. I saw the picture and spat it all on screen,” wrote one user on Baidu Tieba, the large Chinese online community run by search engine company Baidu.

    Several patients who had consumed the potion told the Post they were not aware of its content when they drank it.

    “This is knowledge I’d rather live without,” said a young mother in Beijing who was prescribed it to accelerate recovery after giving birth a year ago.

    “I don’t know the effect, but I healed eventually,” said another patient, who took the potion to cure a back injury.

    ‘Disgusting but powerful’

    Han Yijun, a representative of Gooddoctor Pharmaceutical Group in Beijing, has denied the company misleads patients by referring to the giant cockroach by its academic name.

    “Our drug has been used in hospitals for many, many years and established an enormous number of fans,” she said.

    Some patients with chronic stomach illness were taking the potion regularly because it could relieve their pain significantly, she said.

    “They all know it’s made from cockroaches,” Han said. “It is a disgusting insect, but there are hardly any drugs on the shelves with the same effect.”
    Missed the AI bit on this when I posted this previously in Weird stuff in TCM...... List it!.
    Gene Ching
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  4. #94
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    Splitting this into its own thread

    I never thought this much about cockroaches but clearly it deserves an indie thread distinct now from our Weird stuff in TCM...... List it! thread.

    Chinese farmer unleashes swarm of hungry cockroaches to chew through mountain of food scraps
    Former pharmaceutical worker says his waste disposal system is an environmentally friendly option to fermentation
    PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 April, 2018, 1:07pm
    UPDATED : Sunday, 29 April, 2018, 1:07pm
    Sidney Leng
    sidney.leng@scmp.com
    http://twitter.com/SidneyLeng



    A former pharmaceutical company employee in central China has abandoned the corporate world to farm millions of cockroaches to process food waste, China News Service reports.

    Li Yanrong’s farm in Zhangqiu district in Jinan, Henan province, houses 300 million American cockroaches that together munch through about 15 tonnes of food waste a day, or about a quarter of the district’s kitchen scraps.

    “These cockroaches are not afraid of anything soft, hard, sour, sweet, bitter, or spicy,” Li was quoted as saying.


    Li Yanrong says he has 300 million cockroaches at his food waste disposal farm in Henan. Photo: CNSTV

    China generates at least 60 million tonnes of kitchen waste annually and most of it is processed through fermentation, an expensive, inefficient system that pollutes the environment, according to the report.

    A giant indoor farm in China is breeding 6 billion cockroaches a year. Here's why

    Li said cockroaches offered an alternative, non-polluting way of disposing of food waste.

    He said he already had about 300 tonnes of cockroaches and planned to expand that total to about 4,000 tonnes to be able to process 200 tonnes of food waste from Zhangqiu and neighbouring cities per day.

    The American cockroach is one of the world’s bigger varieties, with a body around 4 centimetres long and a life cycle of around 700 days. It is often used as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine to heal wounds and repair tissue.

    Cockroach farms have expanded across China in recent years, in large part to cater to medicinal demand.

    The world’s biggest is in Xichang, southwestern Sichuan province, where 6 billion adult cockroaches are bred a year for the pharmaceutical industry.

    Nearly 28,000 full-sized cockroaches per square foot were produced there annually, the Sichuan government said in a report submitted to Beijing early this year.
    Gene Ching
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  5. #95
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    Wild Marmot

    Asia
    Mongolian couple dies of plague after eating raw marmot meat


    File photo of a marmot. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Francois Trazzi)

    06 May 2019 11:09PM (Updated: 06 May 2019 11:10PM)

    ULAANBAATAR: A Mongolian couple has died of the bubonic plague after eating raw marmot kidney, triggering a quarantine that left tourists stranded in a remote region for days, officials said Monday (May 6).

    The ethnic Kazakh couple died on May 1 in Mongolia's westernmost province of Bayan-Ulgii, which borders Russia and China.

    "The two dead were local people," said local governor Aipiin Gilimkhaan. "There were no cases reported after them."

    A six-day quarantine was declared on residents in the region, preventing nine tourists from Russia, Germany and Switzerland from leaving.

    "We are all fine. No one is ill," said a German tourist named Teresa, who did not want to give her last name.

    Sebastian Pique, a 24-year-old American Peace Corps volunteer who has lived in the region for two years, said he and the tourists were invited to the governor's office on Friday to be informed about the situation.

    Advertisement

    "After the quarantine (was announced) not many people, even locals, were in the streets for fear of catching the disease," Pique told AFP.

    The quarantine was expected to be lifted late Monday after no other cases of the plague were reported.

    Authorities have warned people against eating raw marmot meat because it can carry Yersinia pestis, the plague germ.

    At least one person dies of the plague every year in Mongolia, mostly due to consuming such meat, according to the National Center for Zoonotic Disease.

    Some people ignore the warnings as they believe that consuming the innards of the large rodent is good for their health.

    The Black Death wiped out millions of people in the Middle Ages but cases are now very rare.

    Its most common form is bubonic, which is spread by fleas and causes swelling of the lymph node. The more virulent form is pneumonic plague, which can be transmitted between humans through coughing.

    Source: AFP/zl
    The opposite of 'good for their health'
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  6. #96
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    Those walnut glasses tho...

    Some European doctors think Chinese medicine should come with a health warning
    CNN Digital Expansion 2017. James Griffiths
    By James Griffiths, CNN
    Updated 8:53 PM ET, Sat November 16, 2019


    Workers at a Traditional Chinese Medicine store prepare various dried items, Hong Kong, December 29, 2010.

    Hong Kong (CNN)Herbs to increase breast milk supply and heal the spleen. Traditional remedies which promise to cure insomnia and acne. Secret cancer treatments that have been ignored or suppressed by Western medicine.

    Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have a long history of making outsized claims, not least in the case of fertility and virility, where demand for tiger ***** and rhino horn has devastated wild populations.
    Quackery and false claims exist in all branches of medicine, but doctors in Europe are concerned that unverified claims made under the guise of TCM are being spread worldwide by social media, inadvertently aided by the World Health Organization (WHO).
    Two leading European scientific and medical bodies say the WHO has legitimized all forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine by including TCM in the upcoming edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), a hugely influential compendium used by health practitioners around the globe.
    The inclusion of TCM "may lead some to see it as a legitimization of what are actually unfounded claims," warned the European Academies' Science Advisory Council (EASAC) and the Federation of European Academies of Medicine (FEAM) in a joint statement this month.
    "There is risk in misleading patients and doctors and in increasing pressures for reimbursement by public health systems at a time of limited resources," the statement said.
    More broadly, there is growing concern that people who turn to the internet for home remedies could expose themselves to serious harm. For example, black salve, which claims to treat tumors but actually burns flesh and can leave people with horrific disfigurements.
    "Social media now makes it very easy to get hold of (misleading information)," said George Griffin, a professor of Infectious Diseases and Medicine at St. George's, University of London. "Unscrupulous people who wish to sell these products can easily put things on social media without any formal verification."


    A woman mixes medicine in the pharmacy of the Yueyang Hospital, part of the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, in Shanghai on November 7, 2018.

    Unscientific medicine

    One of the basic principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, as it is usually defined, is that vital energy, or qi, circulates through channels in the body which connect to various organs and functions. TCM therapies, such as cupping, acupuncture or herbal treatments, seek to activate these channels, or balance someone's qi.
    Though the methods have been in use for hundreds of years, critics argue that there is no verifiable scientific evidence that qi actually exists.
    While the TCM industry is worth an estimated $130 billion in China alone -- and the country's leaders have thrown themselves behind promoting the practice -- it has until recently largely struggled to gain widespread acceptance outside of east Asia.
    The sheer range of claimed benefits of some forms of TCM can be staggering. In a review of acupuncture alone, the Society for Science-Based Medicine, a US-based pressure group, found practitioners offering treatments for everything from cancer, stroke, Parkinson's, and heart disease, to asthma and autism.

    A man wearing "walnut" glasses is treated with smoking wormwood to relieve his oculomotor paralysis at a hospital on July 13, 2018 in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province of China.
    continued next post
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    Continued from previous post

    In 2009, researchers at the University of Maryland surveyed 70 systematic reviews of traditional medicines, including acupuncture, herbal treatments and moxibustion, the burning of herbs near the skin. They found that no studies demonstrated a solid conclusion in favor of TCM due to the sparsity of evidence or the poor methodology of the research.
    This lack of scientific rigor has created space for often outlandish claims about TCM's capabilities in treating certain disorders -- something boosted by the handful of TCM-related treatments which have been scientifically proven to be beneficial. In 2015, Chinese scientist Tu Youyou won the Nobel Prize in medicine for her work on malaria which drew on traditional practices and folklore.
    Other products derived from herbs used in TCM have also shown benefits in scientifically-controlled experiments, vindicating TCM in the eyes of many practitioners, and there have been calls for renewed research in this area, as well as on other ancient remedies that might hold clues to future medical advances.
    What concerns many scientists and doctors, however, is that instead of these experiments and findings boosting the reputation of an individual medicine, they are often held up as proof of the validity of the entire field of TCM, much of which has no basis in science and can be potentially dangerous.
    "Treatments included within the wide TCM category are very different from one another," the European doctors said. "They can only be considered to form a group of therapies from the perspective of history/ethnology ('traditional') and geography (Chinese)."
    Griffin, who helped draft the joint European statement, told CNN that "our concern is that in having this in the ICD, people who aren't critical, who aren't medical or scientific, they may take this as a sign the WHO has full confidence in Traditional Chinese Medicine."
    A spokesman for the WHO said earlier this year that the inclusion of TCM in the new guidelines, was "not an endorsement of the scientific validity of any traditional medicine practice or the efficacy of any traditional medicine intervention."
    Despite this, Dan Larhammer, president of EASAC, an umbrella body representing the national science academies of EU Member states, as well as Norway and Switzerland, said that it was "very likely that it will be interpreted this way by TCM proponents."
    China's state-run news agency Xinhua seemed to confirm concerns about the move being interpreted as an endorsement by declaring it was "a major step for Traditional Chinese Medicine going global."

    A patient receives treatment with bandages filled with herbs at a Traditional Chinese Medicine hospital on July 12, 2019 in Zaozhuang, Shandong Province, China.

    Dubious claims

    On Facebook and YouTube, dubious claims about the effectiveness of using TCM products in treating cancer and other major disorders are readily available. One page boosting TCM, "The Truth About Cancer," has more than 1.3 million likes on Facebook, and encourages users to follow along on a tour through Asia searching for alternative treatments.
    "What if effective, proven, inexpensive cancer therapies were available to you? Would you choose them over toxic chemo and radiation?" Truth About Cancer says. "There is ample evidence to support the allegation that the 'war on cancer' is largely a fraud and that multinational pharmaceutical companies are 'running the show'."
    The Truth About Cancer did not respond to a request for comment. Many other pages on Facebook make similar claims, both about the potential effectiveness of TCM, and against mainstream medical practices.
    Tech companies have begun cracking down on misleading medical claims. In September, Google announced it was prohibiting "advertising for unproven or experimental medical techniques such as most stem cell therapy, cellular (non-stem) therapy, and gene therapy," and Facebook too has vowed to "minimize health content that is sensational or misleading."


    Acupuncture therapy in Hong Kong was linked to organ and tissue injuries, infection and other adverse reactions by a 2018 study.

    While Facebook and Google have been praised for their recent efforts, the crackdown has had limited effect. On both Facebook and YouTube -- owned by Google parent Alphabet -- quack health cures still abound. Their prevalence has coincided with the continued rise of the anti-vaccination movement, which has had major negative effects on public health in some countries.
    While many patients may see benefits in using alternative treatments, including TCM, alongside other medicine, risks arise when people avoid intervention because they are treating themselves with unscientific cures.
    Most notably, Apple founder Steve Jobs repeatedly ignored doctors' recommendations on how to treat the cancer that eventually killed him, choosing instead to use acupuncture and herbal remedies.
    TCM products are not necessarily harmless either. A comprehensive review of medicines and health products being sold under the TCM label in Hong Kong last year found that many were "severely compromised by the practice of adulteration," with potentially serious side effects, while in some cases, acupuncture has been linked to organ and tissue injuries, infection and other adverse reactions.
    "The most important risk is that people and patients rely on unproven methods and refrain from using evidence-based methods," said Larhammer, the EASAC president.
    "Patients lose time and money by relying on useless methods that can, at best, provide placebo response which is usually transient. Some alternative medicine methods, including TCM, involve side effects, especially herbal extracts."
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  8. #98
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    200 LIVE scorpions

    Forget Snakes on a Plane...

    A Chinese traveler was caught trying to smuggle 200 live scorpions out of Sri Lanka
    Eric Cheung, CNN • Updated 14th January 2020



    (CNN) — A unnamed Chinese traveler was caught red-handed when he attempted to smuggle 200 live scorpions out of Sri Lanka on Monday.
    The 30-year-old man was scheduled to fly to Guangzhou in southern China from Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport when authorities detected the live scorpions in his checked-in luggage, Sri Lanka Customs spokesman Sunil Jayarathna told CNN.
    Photos provided by Sri Lankan Customs show the scorpions packed inside at least seven plastic boxes.
    "These scorpions were collected from several areas in Sri Lanka," Jayarathna said. "While the venomous scorpions are not deadly, they are protected."


    Sri Lanka Customs said the live scorpions, which cannot be taken out of the country, were concealed in the man's baggage.
    Sri Lanka Customs

    Jayarathna added that authorities released the man after he paid a fine of 100,000 Sri Lankan rupees (US$552).
    Authorities are continuing to investigate the incident.
    Scorpions are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine in herbal formulas that practitioners claim can help relieve pain in muscles and nerves, according to a notice from the Hong Kong Department of Health.
    Related content
    Man who smuggled overweight cat into plane cabin stripped of frequent flier status
    Sri Lanka is a tropical island nation home to a diverse range of wildlife, and this is not the first time that air travelers have been caught trying to smuggle live animals out of the country.
    In 2014, a Chinese man was arrested in Colombo while attempting to smuggle swallow nests worth $50,000, according to CNN affiliate CNN News 18.
    Gene Ching
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  9. #99
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    Good article on PRC Wild Animal Trade Ban



    Voices & Opinion
    The Challenge Facing China’s Wild Animal Trade Ban
    If the country is serious about curbing the wild animal trade, it needs to rethink its approach.


    Feb 27, 2020 5-min read
    Voices
    Zhou Hongcheng
    Professor of food culture
    Zhou Hongcheng is an assistant professor of Chinese food culture at Zhejiang Gongshang University.

    On Feb. 24, China announced it would implement a “comprehensive” and immediate ban on the trade and consumption of wild animals nationwide. The move cemented an earlier emergency ban enacted amid the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, which has killed 2,800 and sickened over 80,000 worldwide as of Feb. 27.

    But whether it will have a lasting impact is another question. This isn’t the first time a zoonotic coronavirus has devastated China or sparked a legislative and popular backlash against wild animal consumption. SARS, which some scientists believe jumped to humans from masked palm civets at a wet market in southern China, killed nearly 800 people around the world from 2002 to 2004. While recent research has cast doubt on the theory that COVID-19 originated in a live animal market in the central city of Wuhan, virologists still believe it was likely transmitted to humans from wild animals, possibly endangered pangolins.

    In the wake of the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak, China updated its existing rules governing the wildlife trade, but a combination of loopholes and muddled enforcement has continued to render them largely ineffective. If we want this time to be different, we first need to understand the cultural and commercial drivers of the trade, as well as the flaws in the current regulatory and enforcement system.

    Chinese have consumed wild animals for thousands of years, though contrary to stereotypes abroad, they are hardly a fixture of the country’s dinner tables. In its most basic form, the practice was a matter of survival: China had a large population, limited arable land, and a long history of natural and man-made disasters. In times of need, many ordinary Chinese turned to wild animals and plants for sustenance.

    In non-emergencies, the traditional notion that “like nourishes like” led many to believe that eating animal parts could have a beneficial effect on the diner’s corresponding body part. For example, braised beef tendon was seen as a curative for frail knees, and sheep’s ***** as a virility booster.

    As the above examples show, such customs aren’t necessarily tied to the consumption of wild or exotic animals. But there is a long-standing belief in China that the rarer something is, the greater its value. Rare or hard-to-obtain meat was — and sometimes still is — thought to have extremely potent medicinal effects. It could also be a powerful symbol of filial piety, love, and respect, as in the folk story of the woman who cut flesh from her thigh to cook a medicinal porridge for her mother-in-law.

    One domestic media outlet found over 100 possible exceptions to the new rules, including sika deer, red deer, and ring-necked pheasant.
    - Zhou Hongcheng, professor
    These customs have been reinforced by the tenets of traditional Chinese medicine, which makes liberal usage of ingredients extracted from wild animals — such as tiger bone, pilose antler, and deer fetus. Pangolins are another common source of curatives. And while the consumption of pangolin meat is illegal in the country, an exception for TCM practitioners has long allowed the scales of farm-bred pangolins to be prescribed for medicinal use — a loophole that has greatly complicated efforts to protect the species.

    China has had a wildlife protection law on the books since 1988, but its single-minded focus on encouraging the commercial rearing and breeding of species over conservation has led many critics to dub it the “wildlife exploitation law.” In particular, species categorized as one of the “three haves” — having “ecological, scientific, or social value,” like pangolins — were eligible to be bred and sold by licensed farms, which have become a key pillar of rural economies in impoverished parts of the country.

    In addition to forming a regulatory blind spot — the relevant authorities generally lack the resources to ensure wildlife farms are operating legally and within regulations — farm-raised wildlife muddies the waters for what is and isn’t legal to consume. The latest ban, despite its claim to be “comprehensive,” does little to clear things up. One domestic media outlet found over 100 possible exceptions to the new rules, including sika deer, red deer, and ring-necked pheasant.

    It doesn’t have to be this way. On Feb. 25, the day after China announced its nationwide ban on the wild animal trade, the southern megacity of Shenzhen unveiled its own version of the rules, including a white list with just nine types of meat on it. On the city’s black list were a number of species, including turtles, snakes, and some types of birds that local authorities believed posed a risk to public health, despite still being legal to raise under national law.

    That’s a far simpler and more effective approach than the convoluted new national ban, but it may not be enough on its own. One of the primary reasons China is so vulnerable to zoonotic diseases is the very nature of its cities — and the places where animals, both wild and domesticated, are sold.

    Wet markets have been linked to numerous infectious disease outbreaks in China over the years, from SARS to bird flu, and their close proximity to residential areas makes them a sizeable community risk. COVID-19 might not have originated in a Wuhan wet market, but the market’s central location almost certainly helped accelerate its spread.

    Wet markets’ reputations as incubators for disease makes them easy targets during epidemics, and local governments around the country have responded to the current crisis with bans and cleanup campaigns. The eastern province of Zhejiang, for example, has not just cracked down on the wild animal trade, but also the sale of live poultry.

    These campaign-style enforcement efforts cannot achieve lasting change. As long as small markets are allowed to sell and slaughter live animals, resource-strapped local governments will be hard-pressed to monitor and regulate their compliance with health and sanitation codes. To reduce the risk of animal-to-human transmission, slaughter and packaging operations should be moved to large-scale, advanced, and easier-to-monitor operations away from residential areas.

    The guiding principles of any legislation should be clarity and practicability
    - Zhou Hongcheng, professor
    Ultimately, the guiding principles of any legislation should be clarity and practicability. Banning the wildlife trade altogether while carving out a broad array of exceptions for different species and market needs clearly hasn’t been effective. And although Shenzhen’s new guidelines are admirably clear, they likely go too far: One of the delights of any cuisine is variety, and banning all but the most common livestock outright will likely cause resentment that could set back the conservation movement. We need to assess the risks and conservation needs of each individual species before making a clear and definite decision one way or the other.

    Meanwhile, we should take steps to lower demand for wild animals. There is research showing young Chinese are already less interested in wild animal consumption than older generations. We should encourage this trend through health and scientific education, such as by pointing out the lack of scientific evidence for most TCM remedies. Higher taxes can also be used to slowly discourage consumption of wild animal byproducts.

    Changing long-ingrained eating habits will take time. Rather than rushing in with a blanket ban, we should rationally examine the issue, identify the core problems, and work to resolve them, step-by-step.

    Translator: David Ball; editors: Wu Haiyun and Kilian O’Donnell.

    (Header image: A Chinese pangolin strolls in the soil, June 2017. IC)
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  10. #100
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    live frogs

    Trending in China
    Chinese man who ate five live frogs ‘for strength’ hospitalised with parasitic infection

    He had hoped the folk remedy could help him get stronger after he broke two bones in years past
    Other people in China have got sick after eating frogs hoping to get stronger
    Topic |
    China Society
    Mandy Zuo
    Published: 7:00pm, 11 Jun, 2021


    A man in China was hospitalised after he got a parasitic infection from eating five live frogs. Photo: Getty Images
    A man in eastern China developed a parasitic infection after swallowing five live frogs because he believed they would make him stronger, a local hospital said.
    The man, aged 53 and surnamed Sun, ate the amphibians after his fellow villagers told him they could give him more strength.
    He was taken to hospital after he developed a persistent fever and weakness, said the First Affiliated Hospital of College of Medicine, Zhejiang University in an article posted on WeChat on Thursday.
    The man, surnamed Sun, ate the frogs because he believed it would give him strength. Photo: Martin Williams
    The farmer routinely worked the fields in the Yuhang district of Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province. Sun told doctors earlier this month that he caught the frogs near the farmland and swallowed them whole.
    Sun said he decided to try out the folk remedy because he wanted to improve his fitness after suffering breaking his collar bone and a shoulder blade several years ago.
    “I caught five frogs in total and they were all quite small, about a thumb’s length each,” he was quoted as saying.
    He had to go to three hospitals to find the cause of his mysterious illness. He did not realise the frogs might be the cause, so he did not tell the doctors about them until the final stop made a detailed inquiry.
    By then, he had had a fever for about two weeks, and his lungs had shown multiple lesions and fibrosis, doctors said.
    Every year, we receive patients infected with parasites. A great portion of them fall ill because they eat improperly.
    First Affiliated Hospital of College of Medicine, Zhejiang University in an article posted on WeChat
    A biopsy later suggested that Sun was infected with Spirometra mansoni, a tapeworm commonly found in frogs.
    Luckily, the worms had not invaded his eyes or brain, the two organs in the human body that are most prone to infection. If that had happened, Sun would have experienced symptoms similar to a stroke.
    He has now recovered after anti-parasitic treatment, according to the article.
    “Every year, we receive patients infected with parasites. A great portion of them fall ill because they eat improperly,” said Qu Tingting, a doctor from the hospital’s infectious disease department, in the WeChat post.
    The live frog remedy is a folk medicinal practice that is widely adopted in other parts of China.
    A 26-year-old man from Changsha, Hunan province, was found to have been infected by the same parasite in the brain after he ate “plenty of” frogs during his childhood in the hopes of helping to heal a bone injury, the Changsha Evening News reported in January.
    He never thought eating the frogs was risky until one day he could not speak clearly and lost the use of his limbs in early 2021, the news report said.
    Other people eat frogs’ larvae, also believing they will give them strength.
    In April 2018, a video showing a woman making a young girl eat live tadpoles on Weibo triggered a public outcry. The woman said they would help the kid keep healthy while serving her a bowl of swimming tadpoles with a spoon.



    Mandy Zuo

    Mandy Zuo joined the Post in 2010 and reports on China. She has covered a wide range of subjects including policy, rural issues, culture and society. She worked in Beijing before relocating to Shanghai in 2014.
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