Insect Exploitation - for the Love of Cats - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 03-23-2016, 06:12 PM
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Insect Exploitation - for the Love of Cats

Hi, I’m a vegan with 3 cats. I’m not comfortable feeding obligate carnivores vegan cat food, so I feed them canned pate made from turkeys, chickens, cows and tuna, in that order.

Since there are currently people like me out there who will A. keep cats and B. not feed their cats vegan cat food for whatever reason, and until the day that in vitro meat eradicates animal exploitation for good, wouldn’t it be better if there were cat foods available made from crickets and mealworms? For one thing, these animals are better suited to crowded factory farm conditions. For another thing, insects do not exhibit any identifiable emotional response to pain, just like plants, and also do not have pain receptors (nociceptors).

Since we live in the real world, not some ideal utopia of the future in which inexpensive in vitro meat is a reality, shouldn’t vegan groups such as PETA or the Humane Society advocate insect exploitation in order to help save the emotional vertebrates currently being exploited, who are much more like ourselves than insects are?

Thank you for your response.

Last edited by nebula; 03-23-2016 at 06:31 PM.
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#2 Old 03-23-2016, 08:05 PM
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I think it would be hard to convince Americans to eat grasshoppers or grubs. Soy-based meats, on the other hand, have gained huge popularity in America (you can even buy them at Costco and Walmart).

Actually, some insects do have nociceptors (fruit flies, for instance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nocice...malian_animals ). Also, it is not completely known whether or not insects feel pain: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pain_in_invertebrates . I imagine this is why animal rights groups do not generally advocate the eating of insects.

Another consideration is that Hebrew Kosher law and Islamic Halal law do not permit the eating of insects (except for locusts).
http://ohr.edu/ask_db/ask_main.php/19/Q1/
https://islamqa.info/en/21901

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Specific recommendations for a healthy diet include: eating more fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains; cutting down on salt, sugar and fats. It is also advisable to choose unsaturated fats, instead of saturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids."
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http://www.who.int/topics/diet/en/

Last edited by David3; 03-23-2016 at 08:21 PM.
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#3 Old 03-23-2016, 08:40 PM
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I think it would be hard to convince Americans to eat grasshoppers or grubs. Soy-based meats, on the other hand, have gained huge popularity in America (you can even buy them at Costco and Walmart).

Actually, some insects do have nociceptors (fruit flies, for instance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nocice...malian_animals ). Also, it is not completely known whether or not insects feel pain: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pain_in_invertebrates . I imagine this is why animal rights groups do not generally advocate the eating of insects.

Another consideration is that Hebrew Kosher law and Islamic Halal law do not permit the eating of insects (except for locusts).
http://ohr.edu/ask_db/ask_main.php/19/Q1/
https://islamqa.info/en/21901

I think the OP was talking about using insects for cat food, not human food.

I don't have any idea whether insects alone could fulfill the nutritional requirements of felines.
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#4 Old 03-24-2016, 02:36 AM
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Insect farming is already a reality. Here are just a few examples of how insects are exploited for human use:

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-f...m-bugs-2014-10 (warning, graphic photos)

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index....eal-silk-made/

Insects will try to escape from danger. Whether it is instinct or not, they have an innate desire to live. I would have a really hard time myself trapping and raising insects to feed another animal. I'm not a cat owner, but if I were more than likely I would try feeding my cat vegan cat food fortified with Taurine and other nutrients the cat needs before resorting to animals. I'm not in that situation so it is probably a little easier for me to say this. I'm also one who brings spiders, flies, and other insects outside my house or tent or whatever instead of killing them, though I had lice years and years ago and wasn't too unhappy about killing those.

I also agree that we simply don't have the science to know if insects alone would support a cat's nutritional needs.

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#5 Old 03-24-2016, 01:50 PM
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Cat food is marketed to appeal to the taste of the humans buying the food. See Fancy feast "white chicken meat primavera with garden veggies and greens." To make Fancy Feast "bugs and worms" recipe financially viable, you would would have to convince a lot of consumers that this recipe sounds appetizing. Good luck with that.
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#6 Old 03-24-2016, 06:10 PM
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Actually, some insects do have nociceptors (fruit flies, for instance: (snipped links)

Also, it is not completely known whether or not insects feel pain. I imagine this is why animal rights groups do not generally advocate the eating of insects.
Just the fact that has to be DEBATED whether or not insects feel pain is enough to exploit them over cute, emotional, loving mammals, birds and and also fish who often nuzzle against each other or human hands affectionately. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should exploit invertebrates over vertebrates in all cases, such as an octopus over a mouse, just that we should exploit crickets and mealworms (which are much closer to a cat’s ancestral diet than are cows or fish, btw) over emotional, affectionate chickens, turkeys, fish and cows, all of whom are CLEARLY like us, emotional sensitive beings capable of suffering.

Fruit flies exhibit a nociception response but do NOT have nociceptors, they do it with the class IV multidendritic neuron. In any event, they do not display any emotional response that we can detect, turkeys do, so if somebody has to die, insects lose in my book. And until in vitro meat gets here someone does have to die for the reason I stated previously: There are people out there who will A. own cats B. refuse to make them vegan.
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#7 Old 03-24-2016, 08:37 PM
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Nebula,

Please don't take offense at my earlier response. You asked for our opinion, and I supplied you mine.

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Specific recommendations for a healthy diet include: eating more fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains; cutting down on salt, sugar and fats. It is also advisable to choose unsaturated fats, instead of saturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids."
- United Nations' World Health Organization
http://www.who.int/topics/diet/en/
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#8 Old 03-24-2016, 10:46 PM
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I have no idea if insects could provide complete nutrition to cats, but my initial reaction is it wouldn't be much better than a vegan cat food. Though insects can be "gut loaded" by providing the insect with a nutritionally balanced food before feeding it to a larger animal, so they may be able to offer the insects fortified foods with nutrients cats eat insects do not naturally provide. I would imagine those nutrients would need to be synthesized though (and are synthetic nutrients as good as natural?) or else you've defeated the purpose and killed more animals if you have to get certain nutrients from animal sources to feed the insect or fortify the insect, uh, batter with. I agree fully it is our obligation to feed any animal we bring into our home an adequate diet for their species and IMO whenever feasible, as close to a natural diet/natural way of eating as possible. As someone with insectivores who eat live prey (a gecko and newt), I will attest to the fact certain insects most certainly try to run away (crickets, grasshoppers, leaf bugs, cockroaches, moths ect...) and clearly have some fundamental feeling of fear/knowledge they are in danger. I can't really tell with worms, but I bet they would try to get away if they could too. All the insects I feed do appear to experience some level of pain while being eaten as well. I would argue it is likely not more ethical per se than using vertebrates, it may have other benefits. I could see it being more environmentally friendly since insects have a much smaller footprint than large animals and provided it could offer balanced nutrition, may even be safer since insects raised in proper conditions (which is easy to do) have a low risk of disease or parasites where meat raised in poor conditions has a higher risk of becoming contaminated.

On another note, I think dog/cat breeders would quickly go out of business if people had to start letting their carnivorous companions eat as nature intended- live prey. I've been feeding live insects for nearly 20 years to insectivorous animals, and it still makes me cringe every time even though they are "just" bugs. They are still living beings, they still feel some level of fear and pain, no matter how different from me they may be. That is why I will only be considering adopting naturally vegan companion animals in the future (unless the rescue situation is so dire I couldn't not take in the animal, which is actually how I ended up with my newt).

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#9 Old 03-25-2016, 05:45 AM
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As far as the question of whether or not insects can provide proper nutrition to cats, I don't know, but the large animal rights organizations should be spending A LOT of money to find out. A Google search reveals that there is a least one upstart insect cat food company that can use funding. They don't fund this, I guess because "Animal Exploitation is Wrong". So if cats could live on myxozoa, which are in the animal kingdom but comprised of only a handful of cells, the large animal rights organizations would not advocate or fund the exploitation of them, because technically that would be "animal exploitation". Great.

By the way, I trap/release bugs or even let them stay if it's too cold out and don't eat honey etc., I like bugs, but come on...cats need food. Some crickets and mealworms can be housed very comfortably and then slaughtered in some manner, perhaps by electrocution.

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#10 Old 03-25-2016, 06:13 AM
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All the insects I feed do appear to experience some level of pain while being eaten as well. I would argue it is likely not more ethical per se than using vertebrates, it may have other benefits. I could see it being more environmentally friendly since insects have a much smaller footprint than large animals and provided it could offer balanced nutrition, may even be safer since insects raised in proper conditions (which is easy to do) have a low risk of disease or parasites where meat raised in poor conditions has a higher risk of becoming contaminated.

On another note, I think dog/cat breeders would quickly go out of business if people had to start letting their carnivorous companions eat as nature intended- live prey. I've been feeding live insects for nearly 20 years to insectivorous animals, and it still makes me cringe every time even though they are "just" bugs. They are still living beings, they still feel some level of fear and pain, no matter how different from me they may be. That is why I will only be considering adopting naturally vegan companion animals in the future (unless the rescue situation is so dire I couldn't not take in the animal, which is actually how I ended up with my newt).
In order to suffer you need emotion and this has never been proven to exist in insects. The evasive movements you witness are not evidence of the emotion of fear. On the other hand, emotion in livestock animals is well documented. Therefore, at this point in time, insects are the more ethical choice between those two groups.
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#11 Old 03-25-2016, 06:15 AM
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Nebula,

Please don't take offense at my earlier response. You asked for our opinion, and I supplied you mine.
No problem, I will not take offense. I know you were just answering the OP. There wasn't anything offensive about your post at all.
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#12 Old 03-25-2016, 06:47 AM
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Cat food is marketed to appeal to the taste of the humans buying the food. See Fancy feast "white chicken meat primavera with garden veggies and greens." To make Fancy Feast "bugs and worms" recipe financially viable, you would would have to convince a lot of consumers that this recipe sounds appetizing. Good luck with that.
Well, this can start as a small niche thing. There are many, many brands of cat food that are not available in grocery stores, but you can get them at pet stores or online.
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#13 Old 03-25-2016, 08:27 AM
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Know what else is a small niche thing, that needs nutritional supplementation and research? Vegan cat foods.
Insect parts and feces are a HUGE allergen factor. They're considered the number trigger of asthma in cities. What happens to the waste from the vast numbers bred? How and what would they be fed?
Since bugs aren't any more a cats natural diet, why not spend the money on research for vegan foods?

I don't know about insect nutrition, but breeding for food never ends well. Next thing you know we'll be faced with new mutations we need more and newer pesticides to kill
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#14 Old 03-25-2016, 10:08 AM
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Since bugs aren't any more a cats natural diet, why not spend the money on research for vegan foods?
No research is needed because Vegan cat food is already available: Evolution. I won't feed it to my cats. So people like me are going to purchase some form of animal protein based cat food on a regular basis, whatever that may be, and there is currently no option for those who prefer to spare livestock animals. It's an unavoidable Sophie's Choice. Which do you carry from the burning building: the chicken or the aquarium with 50 live crickets? Right now, by its inaction, the animal rights is choosing to save the crickets rather than the chicken.
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#15 Old 03-25-2016, 11:35 AM
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nebula - I think you have identified an entrepreneurial opportunity. Why don't you lead the way by testing various cricket recipes on your own cat to see what he or she likes best, and then post the recipes here.
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#16 Old 03-25-2016, 12:18 PM
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As far as the question of whether or not insects can provide proper nutrition to cats, I don't know, but the large animal rights organizations should be spending A LOT of money to find out.

You could write up a proposal and send it directly to animal rights and animal welfare groups. They might be receptive.

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#17 Old 03-25-2016, 12:33 PM
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http://www.petfoodindustry.com/artic...protein-source
This is only dog food- no words about cat food

http://tastyworms.com/-link to dehydrated worms for reptiles, birds but no mention of mammals @Kiwibird08 --free samples!
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#18 Old 03-25-2016, 12:52 PM
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http://www.petfoodindustry.com/artic...protein-source
This is only dog food- no words about cat food

http://tastyworms.com/-link to dehydrated worms for reptiles, birds but no mention of mammals @Kiwibird08 --free samples!
Lol. I'll pass. Not sure if my guys would go near a dehydrated insect lol. There have been times a cricket has died in the enclosure while I was out of town and dried up a bit and Leo won't touch it. Even at his advanced age and being blind, he still only eats moving prey (though I now have to hold his bugs in front of him with tongs or he can't catch them anymore). I've heard (for reptiles at least) dried aren't as healthy as fresh and many don't recognize them as food. Another (off topic) fun fact: for most desert-dwelling reptiles, their primary source of moisture is from eating insects, not drinking water.

Interesting that they are making dog food already with insects. I found it questionable they use eggs in it. Because, you know, eggs just magically appear out of thin air, no chicken required Seems to defeat the purpose a bit to still have to raise chickens to make the insect-based food.

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#19 Old 03-25-2016, 02:01 PM
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This is only dog food- no words about cat food
I cannot post links but the name of the startup I was referring to previously is Conscientious Cat. Just google Insect Cat Food
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#20 Old 03-25-2016, 06:58 PM
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I would be more likely to invest my money in research to produce lab grown meat for domesticated companion animals. It's a ways off due to expense, but I can foresee this as an option in the future also.

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#21 Old 03-25-2016, 07:05 PM
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I love cats too but would either feed it vegan food or not have one at all. I don't find it ethical to be vegan and yet still purchase animal product based cat food.
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#22 Old 03-25-2016, 08:48 PM
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I love cats too but would either feed it vegan food or not have one at all. I don't find it ethical to be vegan and yet still purchase animal product based cat food.
I agree that it is unethical to purchase cat food made from slaughtered animals but do it anyway. However, I believe it gets more and more ethical the lower down the animal kingdom you go, so it would be (relatively) most ethical of all to buy cat food made from the myxobolus shekel (if such a food existed and was healthy for cats) which is a parasitic animal that you need a microscope to see because it is only 8.5 micrometers.

In fact, I will double down: I think it is even more ethical to exploit animals than it is to exploit plants in many hypothetical cases. For example, I would rather exploit a myxobolus shekel than an old growth redwood tree that has lived for thousands of years.
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#23 Old 03-26-2016, 08:41 AM
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Count me in as one of the people who wants vegan cat food options.

But about using insects as food for animals: We know insects often become pests, devouring crops humans are trying to grow. What about going into a field and hand-picking insects who will be killed anyway, and using them as food for an animal instead of raising insects just to feed them to another animal?

There are a few problems: 1) It would be more work; 2) perhaps some insects would not be good food after eating certain plants, similar to how Monarch butterflies and their caterpillars absorb poisonous glycosides from the milkweed they eat as caterpillars and become poisonous themselves; 3) I doubt this would be enough to replace all the meat and insects being fed to other animals. But perhaps it would do some good, at least until we have vegan cat foods we know are adequate, and have ways of protecting our own food from insects without killing them.

*goes off to google "myxobolus"*

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#24 Old 03-26-2016, 10:22 AM
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Here is an article on the topic of vegetarian diets for cats. This article is unusual, in that it includes links to peer-reviewed studies on the topic: http://skepticalvegan.com/2013/08/10/vegan-cats/
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Specific recommendations for a healthy diet include: eating more fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains; cutting down on salt, sugar and fats. It is also advisable to choose unsaturated fats, instead of saturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids."
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#25 Old 03-26-2016, 10:51 AM
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Say you lived in the future and in vitro meat is as inexpensive as plant foods. Would you feed your pet rabbit kibble made from in vitro produced animal tissue if there were some compassionate motivation for it, such as reducing wild animal deaths during the cultivation and harvest of plant foods? That is to say, would you feed a rabbit a species inappropriate diet if there were some larger benevolent goal? Because if not, why do it to cats? That's how I look at it.
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#26 Old 03-26-2016, 11:29 AM
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Say you lived in the future and in vitro meat is as inexpensive as plant foods. Would you feed your pet rabbit kibble made from in vitro produced animal tissue if there were some compassionate motivation for it, such as reducing wild animal deaths during the cultivation and harvest of plant foods? That is to say, would you feed a rabbit a species inappropriate diet if there were some larger benevolent goal? Because if not, why do it to cats? That's how I look at it.
Wouldn't the production of in vitro animal tissue still require a nutrient source, ultimately derived from plants? I'm not sure that that in vitro meat would have less impact than raising protein-rich plant crops.

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- United Nations' World Health Organization
http://www.who.int/topics/diet/en/
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#27 Old 03-26-2016, 11:41 AM
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Wouldn't the production of in vitro animal tissue still require a nutrient source, ultimately derived from plants? I'm not sure that that in vitro meat would have less impact than raising protein-rich plant crops.
Touche. I just wanted to point out that feeding a cat vegan cat food is the same as feeding a rabbit meat based rabbit food, in that they are both species inappropriate diets.
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#28 Old 03-26-2016, 11:54 AM
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Touche. I just wanted to point out that feeding a cat vegan cat food is the same as feeding a rabbit meat based rabbit food, in that they are both species inappropriate diets.
I had to check to be sure- you're the op who's considering insect meal for cats. Not their natural diet to be sure! I can assure you, a cat in a field of crickets is still going to hunt small mammals or birds.
Doing some quick online research shows that insects are only as nutritionally good as their diet, like every other meat. The idea of breeding them as environmentally sound seems to be counterproductive, as a diet of 'waste' products will not produce quality proteins
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#29 Old 03-26-2016, 12:10 PM
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Not their natural diet to be sure!
Please cite your source. The domestic cat is descended from the African wildcat...and African wildcats hunt and eat insects, and so do domestic cats. Outdoor domestic cats catch and eat insects all the time. Insects are a part of the domestic cat's ancestral diet:

African wildcats are active mainly by night and search for prey. Their hearing is so fine that they can locate prey precisely. They approach prey by patiently crawling forward and using vegetation to hide. They rarely drink water.[14] They hunt primarily mice, rats, birds, reptiles, and insects.[15][16]
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#30 Old 03-26-2016, 12:16 PM
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Touche. I just wanted to point out that feeding a cat vegan cat food is the same as feeding a rabbit meat based rabbit food, in that they are both species inappropriate diets.
Granted, but one dietary choice is more violent than the other.
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- United Nations' World Health Organization
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