Oblivious to the sterile hybrid roses growing on the parliamentary parterre, and the seedless grapes and melons served in its dining rooms, the Philosophes in the Swiss bureaucracy have passed guidelines banning Federal funding of research that affronts the dignity of plants. The object is to stop such horrific affronts to the sovereign integrity of the plant kingdom as genetic engineering that deprives vegetables of their independence.
Three hundred years after Locke praised the Geneva Republic, it's bad enough plants don't have the vote ( although they are not subject to compulsory military service either). Nature news reports the Swiss government's ethics committee on non-human biotechnology has
"issued guidelines instructing researchers how to avoid offending the dignity of plants. If their projects are ruled as affronts to plants, their funding will be pulled.... The committee does not consider that genetic engineering of plants automatically 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.
Reason biotech watcher Ron Bailey wonders about :
"such egregious violations of vegetal dignity as grafting cabernet sauvignon shoots to alien American grape rootstock? And might not hybridization be considered forced plant miscegenation? Also, what could be worse for plant "independence" than domestication? After all, domesticated plants can't thrive without human nurturing. We've turned such crops as corn, wheat, oats, potatoes, and tomatoes into photosynthetic slaves. Finally, what could be more outrageously disrespectful to chlorophyll-kind than being eaten by people? The horror, the horror! "