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Can insects feel pain?

The laboratory of entomology from Wageningen University in the Netherlands published a report that delves deeper into the welfare issues and methods of killing when insects are used for feed or food purposes.

The report focuses on the rules that are needed when insects are kept as mini-livestock. Things such as feeding methods, biosecurity, and also animal welfare topics have to be considered then.

Animal welfare (when talking about normal production animals) involves the "Five Freedoms", which state that animals should be free from: 1) hunger, thirst or improper diet, 2) thermal and physiological discomfort, 3) pain, injury or disease, 4) anxiety and chronic stress and 5)  limitations on the natural behaviour.

But is it realistic to use these 5 freedoms for insects as well? The authors of the report conclude that it is unlikely that insects can experience pain because 1) pain is not adaptive in insects, 2) a pain centre has not yet been identified in the insect brain and 3) insects do not show the typical behaviour associated with pain.

Moreover, the authors consider it unlikely that insects can perceive their own welfare state. But the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, that is the precautionary principle is used. This means that the integrity and health of an insect must be maintained where reasonable.

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