October 20, 2008

Carrots Down the Rabbit Hole

Justin Katz

The range of protected groups continues to, umm, grow:

For years, Swiss scientists have blithely created genetically modified rice, corn and apples. But did they ever stop to consider just how humiliating such experiments may be to plants?

That's a question they must now ask. Last spring, this small Alpine nation began mandating that geneticists conduct their research without trampling on a plant's dignity. ...

Many scientists interpret the dignity rule as applying mainly to field trials like Dr. Keller's, but some worry it may one day apply to lab studies as well. Another gripe: While Switzerland's stern laws defend lab animals and now plants from genetic tweaking, similar protections haven't been granted to snails and drosophila flies, which are commonly used in genetic experiments.

It also begs an obvious, if unrelated question: For a carrot, is there a more mortifying fate than being peeled, chopped and dropped into boiling water? ...

Seeking clarity, Dr. Poirier recently invited the head of the Swiss ethics panel to his university. In their public discussion, Dr. Poirier said the new rules are flawed because decades of traditional plant breeding had led to widely available sterile fruit, such as seedless grapes. Things took a surreal turn when it was disclosed that some panel members believe plants have feelings, Dr. Poirier says.

Frankly, the highest purpose in a vegetable's life must be to be eaten, although I can't say but that those called upon to serve mankind in the world of science, rather than be served to mankind at the dinner table, find their own callings meaningful, as well.

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rights for all but the unborn
recently on PDD David Segal wondered out loud if artificial intelligence(linked supercomputers)might become a focus of the right not to be turned off

Posted by: joe bernstein at October 20, 2008 3:09 PM

This is absurd. Plants have no dignity and neither does someone who claims that they do.

Posted by: Monique at October 20, 2008 4:02 PM

Monique-just hold on a minute there-our morning glories are very dignified

Posted by: joe bernstein at October 20, 2008 6:06 PM

With reference to Joe's first comment, it bears mentioning that Switzerland's abortion laws are significantly more conservative than ours (first trimester and then life of the mother, I believe). I'm persuaded that many Americans would be surprised to learn that theirs are just about the most liberal abortion laws in the world.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 20, 2008 7:21 PM

Joe, I stand corrected. They have far more dignity and common sense than these benighted people.

Posted by: Monique at October 20, 2008 9:28 PM
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