Blackadder’s Lair

The home of many a cunning plan

Veggie Rights

Sometimes is seems like every day the line between parody and reality gets a little harder to draw. To wit.:

A few years ago the Swiss added to their national constitution a provision requiring “account to be taken of the dignity of creation when handling animals, plants and other organisms.” No one knew exactly what it meant, so they asked the Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology to figure it out. The resulting report, “The Dignity of Living Beings with Regard to Plants,” is enough to short circuit the brain.

A “clear majority” of the panel adopted what it called a “biocentric” moral view, meaning that “living organisms should be considered morally for their own sake because they are alive.” Thus, the panel determined that we cannot claim “absolute ownership” over plants and, moreover, that “individual plants have an inherent worth.” This means that “we may not use them just as we please, even if the plant community is not in danger, or if our actions do not endanger the species, or if we are not acting arbitrarily.”

The committee offered this illustration: A farmer mows his field (apparently an acceptable action, perhaps because the hay is intended to feed the farmer’s herd–the report doesn’t say). But then, while walking home, he casually “decapitates” some wildflowers with his scythe. The panel decries this act as immoral, though its members can’t agree why. The report states, opaquely:

At this point it remains unclear whether this action is condemned because it expresses a particular moral stance of the farmer toward other organisms or because something bad is being done to the flowers themselves.

The Swiss may not yet be near the point of defining herbicide as a crime against humanity (or veggieanity, or whatever), but this is not an encouraging sign. Then there’s this:

The [Swiss] committee has .  .  . come up with few concrete examples of what type of experiment might be considered an unacceptable insult to plant dignity. The committee does not consider that genetic engineering of plants falls into this category, but its majority view holds that it would if the genetic modification caused plants to “lose their independence”–for example by interfering with their capacity to reproduce.

Vegetables grow free, yet everywhere they are in supermarkets.

Every liberation movement needs a good protest song, and fortunately for the veggie rights movement, one has already been written by the Arrogant Worms (the Worms are Canadian, not Swiss, but I’m sure they wouldn’t mind letting the Swiss use it as their new national anthem, if they so desire). Here is the video:

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May 12, 2008 - Posted by | Environmentalism, Humor, Morality, Weirdness

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