How to eat horseshoe crabs

Valuable cancer is threatened - one liter of your blood costs 16,000 francs

Their blood costs up to 16,000 francs per liter, but horseshoe crabs are priceless for human health. Even so, the dinosaurs of the seas are on the verge of extinction.

They survived the dinosaurs and the mass extinction during the last ice age: however, after 450 million years on earth, the time for horseshoe crabs may be up. Man is to blame once more. He is quite dependent on the blue-blooded animals, which are reminiscent of a mixture of the facehugger in the "Alien" films and a giant louse.

Limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) is produced by the pharmaceutical industry from the blood of horseshoe crabs, which is colored blue by the copper-based oxygen transporter hemocyanin. What makes it so valuable: No substance in the world shows bacteria better. LAL tests are used for the approval of new drugs and are used to identify contaminants in surgical instruments, adaptations to pacemakers and many vaccinations.

The health of humans is more or less dependent on the primeval animal. And yet mankind could achieve what almost half a billion years of geological history could not: bring the horseshoe crab to the end of its existence. The living fossils are still found on the east coast of the USA and in Southeast Asia. However, excessive fishing, habitat loss, climate change and red algae epidemics threaten its continued existence.

And then there is the pharmaceutical industry. On the US coast alone, around 430,000 horseshoe crabs are caught every year and forced to donate blood, reports the English Guardian. A lucrative business: the lysate made from blood is one of the most valuable liquids on earth. A liter costs up to 16,000 francs.

For so much money, the industry accepts a lot. For example, up to a fifth of horseshoe crabs do not survive the "blood donation". The procedure involves piercing the animal's shell near the heart. The animals have to leave 30 percent of their blood in the laboratory before they are released again.

Three decades ago horseshoe crabs were plentiful on the US Atlantic coast. In 2016 the UN put them on the red list of endangered species. Scientists say the species decline is a symbol of the enormous economic and health costs of global biodiversity loss.

Since 1992, a third of the earth's ecological wealth - species, forests, rivers and soils - has been lost. This has profound consequences not only for people's health and well-being, but also for their continued existence.

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