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.

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