It was bound to happen

Remember how you used to cavalierly ignore those “Keep of the Grass Signs” in your un-enlightened youth?

Well, you brutal, uncaring, beast.

For it has finally been announced—from Europe, naturally, from the Swiss government-appointed Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology—that plants have feelings too.

They have authoritatively stated that “interfering with plants without a valid reason as ‘morally inadmissible.'” This means the next time you carve you and your sweetheart’s name into a tree can lead to a nice, long jail sentence. (If the famed Swiss police ever catch you, that is.)

The ethics committee did grudgingly admit—for now—that “all action involving plants for the preservation of the human race was morally justified.” Meaning, I suppose, that it’s still OK to eat them. I probably don’t need to explain to you the fix we’d be in if we could not. But there is only direction for the Enlightened to go, so stay tuned for an announcement banning the use of “higher” plants, such as maybe corn and tomatoes, for use in the “preservation of the human race.”

The august Swiss body has also found that “genetic modification of a plant did not contradict the idea of its ‘dignity’.” Yes, I can see how a kumquat would not find it an affront to be genetically probed. Until, that is, the kumquat learns how easily this sort of thing can sully one’s reputation. It’s only matter of time before a lawyer figures this out and brings a case to Brussels.

Just keep all this in mind, think about what you are doing—raise your awareness!—next time you are at the salad bar.


  1. David Adams

    The story seems to have been distorted in order to get a few laughs, but plants do have nervous systems that react to stimuli such as heat, cold, sunlight, darkness and water.
    Any living thing that grows derives some sensory stimulation from its surroundings in order to survive.
    Plants are not reasoning creatures such as the person who wote without research – but neither are they dead to the world around them.

  2. But I like hearing raw carrots and lettuces scream while I eat them. Spoilsports! 😉

  3. D Johnson

    Based solely on the news article, it does sound kookie. But I take their position on genetic modification to be surprisingly progressive, compared to what is more widely reported from Europe.

  4. deadwood

    Right. And we all get trek-like replicators to create food from atmosphere and minerals so we won’t harm our phyto-brothers and sisters?

    These folks were appointed by government?

  5. Briggs

    Good arguments, David. Like I said, only one way to go.

  6. MrCPhysics

    ” It?s only matter of time before a lawyer figures this out and brings a case to Brussels.”–Matt

    You did, of course mean that it’s only a matter of time until a case in Brussels SPROUTS.


  7. TomP

    Plants do not, in fact, have nervous systems, David. You have a nervous system, your dog has a nervous system – even a sponge has a nervous system – but plants don’t have nervous systems.

    I can build a simple robot in my garage that can “react to stimuli such as heat, cold, sunlight, darkness and water.” So what? Are you willing to argue that that any object that reacts to light has moral rights that I need to worry about violating?

  8. Greg

    You do realise the purpose of a fruit for a plant right ? The fruit is an edible means of distribution of its seeds for the plant. In this case, the plant would like you to eat its fruit.

    I suppose carrots feel differently about that though.

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