Daily question: Plants with dignity?

From the “There Are More Important Things Than The Current Financial Crisis” department:

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.

reports Wall Street Journal.

“Where does it stop?” asks Yves Poirier, a molecular biologist at the laboratory of plant biotechnology at the University of Lausanne. “Should we now defend the dignity of microbes and viruses?”

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.

Have the Swiss gone nuts, you might be asking:

Several years ago, when Christof Sautter, a botanist at Switzerland’s Federal Institute of Technology, failed to get permission to do a local field trial on transgenic wheat, he moved the experiment to the U.S. He’s too embarrassed to mention the new dignity rule to his American colleagues. “They’ll think Swiss people are crazy,” he says.

What happens when a nation of watchmakers venture beyond the domain of science?

7 thoughts on “Daily question: Plants with dignity?

  1. Ziad: “Swiss muesli”

    Let’s hope one of our Swiss readers here can tell us how this really came to be.

  2. So if I study different genetic modifications of ingredients in Swiss muesli for human health/shelf life/nutritional value/etc… I need be concerned with a bioethics panel on the dignity of the ingredients? I cannot think of anything more undignified to rolled oats or dried fruit than to pass through my digestive system. And is the alternative to pass through the system of a pig or horse, more or less ethical?

    The outcome leaves one feeling very flushed.

  3. “What happens when a nation of watchmakers venture beyond the domain of science?”

    The same thing that happens when a high-end consumer electronics product rests its laurels on the R&D prowess of a fashion house.

  4. Interesting how science moves to the country that is most “free” on that particular type of science. The stem cell researchers are probably moving to Switzerland to escape religious legislation.

  5. As a colleague (originally from India) once told me: “I’m a vegetarian not because I love animals, but because I hate vegetables.”

  6. I think the Swiss are right
    It’s really embarrassing that we humans think we have conscience, but other living things don’t. we are nothing but dust in a wet rock

    but in other hand, to respect every living thing “dignity” we should cease not only science, but breathing, feeding and interacting with nature, and that is silly.

Comments are closed.