Pulling the wings off flies—it’s the
textbook example of sadism. But not only is a Michigan-based company called
Backyard Brains encouraging kids to torture bugs, it’s also upping the ante by
selling kits that turn bullying into a high-tech “experiment.”

 
© iStock.com/dedMazay

The company’s RoboRoach kits instruct kids to “anesthetize” a live
cockroach by dousing him or her with ice water; sand the animal’s thorax (yes,
you read that right), use a needle to puncture it, and superglue an electrode
connector to it; cut off most of the roach’s antennae and superglue electrodes to
the stubs; and use a hot glue gun to attach a battery pack to the roach’s back,
all so that kids can control the animal’s movements via a smartphone app. The
product works only for a few days, but the electrodes are permanently attached,
and Backyard Brains offers only vague instructions about “retir[ing] the
cockroach to your breeder colony.”

Wired calls RoboRoach “a serious potential upgrade for those
kids that love to burn ants with a magnifying glass in summer—and an
ethics-free lesson in mind control for the pursuit of entertainment.” PETA
calls it “cruel” and has submitted a complaint to the Michigan attorney
general and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs about the
unauthorized practice of veterinary medicine (performing surgery on
cockroaches), which is a felony, and instructing children to commit this crime,
too. We’ve also contacted the Michigan Department of Agriculture Rural
Development about Backyard Brains’ offering live cockroaches for sale and
shipment without the required permit.

Studies indicate that not only do
cockroaches experience pain, they also have complex memory, learning, and
spatial awareness. In one study, researchers used computer simulations to show
that insect brains have enough neural circuits to possess
consciousness
, and insects may even be able to count.

Cockroaches are also very social—they live together in closely bonded
groups, can recognize individual members of their family, and make collective
decisions that will benefit the entire cockroach clan. A study by scientists at
Queen Mary University of London found that cockroaches “talk” to one another and
prefer to dine in groups.

Not only is RoboRoach harmul to roaches, it’s potentially harmful to
the cyborgs’ handlers. It could desensitize them to the feelings of
those who are weaker than they are
. One might just as well call it a “bully starter kit.”

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PETA Goes All RoboCop on RoboRoach, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

Article source: PETA Files

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