Switzerland Places Ban on the Humiliation of Plants

A new amended law in Switzerland protects the dignity of vegetation.

A law protecting the dignity of plants?  Laugh if you will.  I’m down on my knees in respect and awe.  At last the Western World is realizing the dire importance of taking other species into account.

Recently, the Swiss Parliament asked a panel of philosophers, lawyers, geneticists and theologians to determine the meaning of dignity when it pertains to plants.

Lo and Behold, the team published a treatise on “the moral consideration of plants for their own sake.” The treatise established that vegetation has innate value and that it is morally wrong to partake in activities such as the “decapitation of wildflowers at the roadside without rational reason.”

Over a decade ago, an amendment was added to the Swiss constitution in order to defend the dignity of all creatures — including vegetation — against unwanted repercussions of genetic engineering. The amendment was turned into law and is known as the Gene Technology Act. However the law itself didn’t say anything specific about plants, until recently, when the law was amended to include them.


The obvious question at hand:  how does this new ruling affect the production of genetically modified organisms?

Beat Keller is a molecular biologist at the University of Zurich.  Keller recently asked permission of the government to conduct a field trial of a genetically modified wheat bred with a resistance to fungus.  In order to actually gain permission to go ahead with the trial, he needed to hash out the potential threats to the dignity of the wheat.

The majority of the panel agrees that genetically modified plants are ok,  “as long as their independence, i.e., reproductive ability and adaptive ability, are ensured.”  In other words, no forced sterility and terminator genes.

And Keller did, in the end, get to plant his GMO grain.

“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?”

And even though I think it’s a great law, where does it stop?  How humiliated is a boiled potato?  A peeled carrot?  Corn turned into a lowly, tortilla chip meant for dipping?

Source:  Wall Street Journal

Photo:  Wikimedia under a Creative Commons Lisence

87 thoughts on “Switzerland Places Ban on the Humiliation of Plants”

  1. I was raised near 100 acres of Flowers and Strawberries It was beautiful rolling hills and rows and rows of colorful flowers all grown by MAN and they harvested them and grew more..we used to get 4 growing cycles a year. Flowers offer us so much pleasure and so do Strawberries…they were grown nurtured and harvested by man. This is exactly the way God intended us to behave…This liberal BS is really no more than a senseless attack on man kind…Save the spotted owl stupidity…in doing so they refuse to cut old growth but because of that California burns down every years hundreds and hundreds of acres of Forest..where does the spotted owl live?…one nest was recently found under the hood of an antique 1932 Ford Pickup that was left in the field…they not only found that the spotted owl made a home but several rodents found refuge under the truck and as well as shade….So really folks get a F’ing life…everything on this planet if moving forward except these leftist moronic control freaks…that do nothing but cause trouble…

  2. Stop GMO’s but this law for plants is absurd and frankly scary. It is mankind’s hands to repair what we have done.

  3. Stop GMO’s but this law for plants is absurd and frankly scary. It is mankind’s hands to repair what we have done.

  4. I eat plants and turn them into poop, a quite literal degradation of their dignity, especially once they wind up in the sewage system.
    Is this now a federal offense? =P

  5. I eat plants and turn them into poop, a quite literal degradation of their dignity, especially once they wind up in the sewage system.
    Is this now a federal offense? =P

  6. Genuinely and without a doubt the most ridiculous thing I have seen this year.
    Surely the only value of this bill is its innate entertainment value.

  7. I guess there will be warrants out on cows–they eat a LOT of plants! What a bunch of nitwits. The nuttier and idea is, the more the progressives and eco nuts like it. They could help the planet by offing THEMSELVES—such a waste of air they breathe and the methane that erupts from their behinds. I’m going outside now and I will mow the lawn, chop some tree limbs off for fun and then throw some poison down on the lawn–can’t wait!

  8. I have been working with flower essences since 1984, professionally as a therapy since 1986. This therapy relies on the consciousness within plants being transferred to water as the conductor of consiousness.
    The effects of flower essences are miraculous! This includes swiftly reversing cancer, brain tumours, leukemia, debilitating emotional states, etc. The effectiveness occurs in adult humans, children, babies, animals, and even other plants – so there is no placebo effect.
    Cleve Backster's ongoing research , since 1962, has proven the existence of consciousness within plants, and even bacteria. Why do we, as a species, claim the sole right to consciousness? Very few plants destroy their environement as we do. Plants have evolved way beyond our present capacity. The flower is the spiritual emanation of the plant, in 3-D.
    Sunflowers will turn to follow the sun BY CHOICE: nothing else makes that happen. It is difficult for us as a species to let go of our ego-centric view of a world that was put here for us alone. Perhaps this has been due to the misinterpretation or mis-translation of certain religious scriptures.
    The human being is the infant of the natural world, and like the 2-year-old child, we only see things from our tiny perspective of "self". The world is ALIVE with consciousness!

      1. Actually it has been proven time and time again that plants can be adversely effected by the emotional environment around them. Up to and including scientists singing to them (or to take out the CO2 factor- playing recordings) in different musical genres, yelling at them and berating them, praising them and then of course the control plants that just receive basic nutrients needed to survive. The plants that thrived and grew tallest with the most flourish were the ones that were praise and also the ones that listened to music.
        and of course my favorite Mythbusters

  9. What planet have you moonbeams come from? This nitwittedness is now invading the U.S.A. because our socialist, nutcase president Obama just set up a department for animal rights. I am really getting fed up with all you crazies trying to run everyone’s life protecting plants and animals, yet you see nothing wrong at all with aborting a human being in the mother’s womb. You have your priorities ass backwards.

  10. Are you serious?

    Wow, talk about anthropomorphism gone wild.

    “The dignity of life”? I suppose it takes arrant hubris to wash one’s hands with anti-microbial soap too.

  11. Has any of you geniuses considered that this law was introduced to stop Monsanto (you know the company that brought us the terminator seed and wants nothing less than total world food domination)from operating in Switzerland? It’s the genetic dignity that is the operative term here only a less then intelligent person would dwell on the boiling part.

  12. It seems to question why but I know as a grower of plants that the control of vegetation outside of agriculture is beyond reason at times. The destruction I have witnessed is deplorable. All in the name of biodiversity and conservation. Yikes. Let me guess, nature made a mistake and I must correct it. How about-the vegetation is all wrong-its going bad we need to bomb it back to 1491. Integration doesn’t happen until we get rid of the plants we call weeds. I am not talking about a flower garden either. My favorite quote from a phd forester at a native plant conference-“never mind there is no scientific difference between native and non native we must kill these evil plants.” No wonder the Swiss came up with this.

  13. Wow, this is frankly mind-bogglingly stupid. Good lord, what is next? The dignity of plastic? The sanctity of boogers? HAHA! OMG! The growing number of people in this world who have their heads shoved MILES up their own ass is astounding. We have killed God and raised up PLANTS to the position of a deity. Satan is alive and well on planet earth, indeed.

    The only thing I love about this is it is a huge slap to the face of arrogant vegans. Now they have to give an account for disrespecting veggies when they BOIL them, or FRY them ALIVE! HAHA!

    Guinnevere is one of the finest examples of abject stupidity I have ever encountered. Raising the existence of plants over that of human beings… remarkable. Some of the most grotesque sophistry ever vomited on an audience, issueth forth from her gaping maw.

    Leave it to brain-dead retro-pseudo-wannabe-hippies like Guinnevere and Meg Hamill to actually believe that the Swiss give a rat’s ass about the “dignity” of plants. The Swiss law is an utter and complete lie disguised as eco-friendly nonsense. The goal of the Swiss is to curtail genetic mutation experimentation, and NOT to get all warm and fuzzy with the plants. The Swiss have industries in farming that the corporate bigwigs want to protect, so they come up with “plant dignity” laws so they can stop new individuals and small companies from experimenting with new farming techniques and genetically modified plant stocks. This is nothing more than the vile interference of corrupt corporations attempting to shut down the little guy. The powerful Swiss fat-cat CEOs want to protect their agri-biz and are using this law to do it.

    Way to go, Meg Hamill and Guinnevere in applauding the greedy, disgusting machinations of corrupt corporations. Way to think it through. What gullible sheep you are, mindless pawns who are easily controlled by a vitriolic Big Brother. Next time, USE YOUR HEAD! Learn to recognize the cruel and crushing maneuvers of money-grubbing corporations to shut down independent, grass-roots business efforts of the people. The small business lead by one (good) man this law shut down was attempting to modify wheat to be more hardy and grow in regions not previously farmable. Land that poor people own that this modified wheat could have helped FEED! This law is nothing more than a scummy corporation shutting down an attempt to bring cheaper, organic food to underprivileged people.

    Good job Guinnevere and Meg, what will you applaud next… children in Africa starving? Pull your head out of your ass and recognize when you are being manipulated by a greedy corporation.

    This is the problem with stupid, naive hippies. They think the world is this really simple place where everything is what it seems. Instead, the economics and ecology issues this world is facing is fraught with complex political issues and BILLIONS, TRILLIONS of dollars at stake!

    You knuckleheads applaud biofuels, but don’t realize that the production of biofuels drastically raises the cost of corn, resulting in MILLIONS of people starving because they can’t afford to feed themselves or their children! The tiny bit of carbon biofuels saves is WORTHLESS compared to millions of little children DYING OF HUNGER!

    Good god, when will ignorant, gullible, arrogant hippies like Guinnevere and Meg finally realize that things are incredibly complicated and won’t be solved by wearing hemp clothing and singing folk songs?! When will they realize that they are being DUPED by all this eco-shit by money-hungry corporations selling “green” nonsense to line their own pockets at the expense of poor people around the globe?!

  14. Let’s all take a breath and admit how silly this discussion is. Protecting plants that we need for human or animal consumption is one thing but “for the dignity of the plants?” Let’s come down to earth for a minute and admit that this is nonsense.

  15. So while we can pass laws that “established that vegetation has innate value and that it is morally wrong to partake in activities such as the “decapitation of wildflowers at the roadside without rational reason.” The world allows a set of scissors to be jammed into a squirming, living, breathing infant (without pain meds mind you) and then have it’s brains sucked out until it’s skull collapses. And usually it is you tree-hugging, earth-loving hippies that are holding the “I have a choice” placards. God’s wrath has been held back long enough, while you are down on your knees in respect and awe you need to find what is worthy of true worship, and it is not the roadside dandelion.

  16. i would also suggest punishing wolves that kill other animals, because they are violating the latter’s right to the pursuit of happiness

  17. You people have too much time on your hands. While you were busy fulminating about flora, I was enjoying a tasty salad.
    Try living for a change.

  18. I think it’s better to spend money on a question like that than to manufacture bombs and fight never ending wars. Most of you people bashing this exagerate beyond any reason.. You think this is the only thing people are working on here? This is just one of many fundamental philosophical questions that our future *might* depend on. It sounds weird, who cares? You can still eat your apple without getting a ticket.. Jeez. How naive are you (bashing) guys? Is this so hard to get..?

    Please, widen your horizon..

  19. I clicked a link that said I have won a free pineapple…. Where my free pineapple??

    I promise to be nice to it.

  20. Lets put laws in to protect all species of plant and animal as well as all of Earth’s resources… That will leave humans on the bottom of the food chain. The same food chain that does not adhere to human laws. Which in the end brings the downfall of humanity…

    Laws like these and the people that support them are the true threat to human survival in the modern world.

  21. Isn’t “wanton destruction” what we do when we crush and mangle plants and seeds between our teeth? Is it humiliating to an artichoke to be pulled apart leaf by leaf? Is assisted pollination getting too personal with a plant’s reproduction…without their consent?!

    With such common sense about ownership of firearms I thought Switzerland a mentally balanced country. Clearly I have made an incorrect conclusion. Being a resident of the People’s Republik of Kalifornia, I expect to see propagation of this mental disorder here first…even before the rest of Europe is contaminated.

  22. No terminator genes? No restricting the ability to adapt??? Look, either completely prohibit any genetic modification, or require that it be done right, with safeguards. This loony law gets it completely wrong.
    Also, you do not *have* to eat, say, fruit (i.e., plants’ babies) — you tend to do that purely for your wanton pleasure. If that’s not an affront to “dignity”, what is? Best stop eating all plants right now.
    The inmates running the asylum indeed.

  23. Oddly enough, abortion on demand in the first trimester is legal in Switzerland and paid for by the state. Yet plants’ dignity is protected under law. It’s not just the clocks that are cuckoo.

  24. This is the first step forward, but you must now recognize the rights of computers, and your moral obligations towards them. NO LONGER should you be allowed to simply open their cases and mess with their insides in an undignified manner – this activity should only be performed by specialists who have sworn a hypocratic-style oath. NO LONGER should you be allowed to simply throw out an old CD ROM when it stops working – it is YOUR responsibility to repair it, no matter what the cost.

    Oh, you should also respect dirt and stop treading in it.

  25. We’re so done as a species it’s ridiculous. Are you kidding me? This is what we’re bothering ourselves with in the Western World? There’s nothing more pressing than the “dignity” of plants? We’re just done…

  26. Anyone ever see, ‘the happening’? Maybe the swiss are trying to get in good with the plants; For when they release their neurotoxins and make everyone kill themselves. Only the swiss will survive.lol

  27. Loony loony loony loony. The lunatics are running the asylum, and other lunatics are cheering them on. Poor little loonies, thinking that plants have “dignity”. What’s next, protecting the “dignity” of rocks, of poo?

  28. I just put a dunce cap on one of my houseplants and made it sit there in front of the other plants. Then I pointed and laughed. Really hard.

    Wait, is that the Swiss police at my door?

    Seriously, who thinks this stuff up? Humiliation of plants? How? You can go to a forest and make fun of every plant you see, and what’s going to happen? Nothing.

  29. What? This is the ultimate stupidest thing I have yet to hear from you tree huggers. I mean even if you have a genuine interest in saving plants and wildlife from extinction, this kind of thing is what non-conservationalists can point to and apply the label ‘ecological mumbo jumbo’ thereby hurting real issues like species protection.

    Get a grip on reality here folks or you’ll end up destroying all you are working for!

  30. The only actual good thing about this article is that the law bans creation of plants that cannot reproduce. This is in itself a step to the right direction away from big seed-companies for example creating wheat that cannot be sustained by the farmer by saving seeds for the next year.

  31. I think it’s time to hone in on the vegans as the plant-murderers they are. They intentionally focus their violence on plants, explicitly excluding animals, humans, or even the by-products thereof. They are plantist. They are anti-plant terrorists who kill and even eat plants en masse. Some even go so far as to not even kill them before they eat them, but horrifically eat them RAW!! This must be stopped! Plants deserve better!

  32. The only reason why crap like this pops up every now and then is because humans don’t have to hunt and gather their food anymore, so we seem to develop ourselves some other problems like thinking whether plants can feel and whether killing a bug is a murder, vegans fall into this same category.. soon we can’t eat anything anymore because meat is murder and plants should not be killed. This is just absolutely ridiculous stuff.. don’t you people have any understanding how many plants and seeds are bred every year.. hardly we can kill them all just by decapitating them. Why don’t you go waving your biological stability flags in front of the offices of the companies who really are destroying species by transporting stuff from abroad and so on.. I mean.. god dammit, to LIKE stuff like this you must have an IQ less than a plant.

  33. When an internet “journalist” includes a sentence like “I’m down on my knees in respect and awe” in the opening paragraph of her article, anything else she writes should be taken with a (BIG!) grain of salt.

    So, looking at her bio (linked on this paged) we discover “Meg holds an MFA in Creative Writing and has published two books of political/environmental poetry.”

    Creative writing? Political/environmental poetry? How about some journalism Meg? Your flair for the dramatic rivals even Guinnevere (see above)

  34. This Hamill person is allowed in schools? Around children???


    So will it be a suspension for kids picking dandelions? Or outright expulsion in your schools Meg?

  35. Remind me to not live in Switzerland. So they can’t eat plants, because that would be an indignation to the poor plants; surely they can’t eat animals, because that’s even more of an indignation. They can’t drink water because of the microbes living in it — must not interfere with other species’ right to exist, after all — and the same with breathing! After they all die of suffocation, dehydration, and/or starvation, perhaps some more rational people will move in.

    Seriously, *down on your knees with awe*?!? I agree that we shouldn’t continue raping the planet as we have done this past hundred or so years, but talking about the “dignity” of plants doesn’t help that, nor make sense. Actually combating the problems that exist is a much better solution, than sitting around a table, sipping cappucinos, churning out ridiculous reports that only make it look like something’s being done. In fact, all these reports, and all the excess paperwork now needed for people to carry on living there in Switzerland either produce more physical paperwork (but what about the dignity of the trees!), or more digital paperwork (but what about the carbon emissions from the power plants!). Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  36. What is wrong with having respect for something? If it goes too far who does it hurt? No one. I see nothing wrong with it.

  37. So, let me get this straight. Plants have rights. Unborn children do not. Decapitating a plant is wrong. Aborting a child is not.

    This is one messed up world.

  38. Last week I cut my lawn and applied weedkiller to my driveway.

    The screams of a million dead souls still resonates in my brain, a deathshriek ringing with untold pain and agony..

  39. gunnivere: that may be true but in the actuality of enforcement, it WILL turn into a motherlode of material for stand up comedians.

    jeezuz. moral dignity of a plant??? where do they come up with this stuff? you DON’T do it this way to protect huge swaths of forest from wanton destruction. what you do is to regulate the forestry industry as is done in some places.

    ‘humiliation’ of an amoeba next on the roster.

  40. Being opposed to waste is good.
    Imbuing plants with rights or dignity is simply insane.

    Think about it next time you need antibiotics to save your life (WMD in plant-speak).

  41. Things like plants cannot be humiliated because they have no cognitive ability. Whats more is the idea of inherent value in ANYTHING is ludicrous as all value is given to other things via HUMAN perception of the object in questions personal value to the man in question. Value is an internalized concept and a completely subjective evaluation. NOTHING has inherent value outside of MANS evaluation.

    Surely I cannot be the only one who sees this as a huge stepping stone to controlling the peoples of Switzerland’s very food supply, starving them or placing them on strict government approved diets for their own good and of course for the ‘sanctity’ of the damn plants.

  42. Our world is in peril. Gaia, the spirit of the Earth, can no longer stand the terrible destruction plaguing our planet. She gives five special rings to five special young people. From Africa, Kwame with the power of earth. From the North America, Wheeler with the power of fire. From the Soviet Union, Linka with the power of wind. From Asia, Gi with the power of water and from South America, Ma-Ti with the power of heart.

  43. Ed the plant killer

    I killed thousands of beans this weekend, and an unknown number of corn kernels via boiling that might have sprouted on their own and grown into productive members of an ear. Should I have not done that?

  44. I shall be oh so worried about the dignity of weeds growing in my lawn and driveway as I spray weed killer on them. Perhaps I shall allow for a funeral afterwards. What a load of fertilizer!!! I needed a good laugh today, and think I have met my quota for the year. Suppose I shall give Peas a chance and shall provide a therapist for them before I place them in a pot of boiling water. What is the proper protocol when picking fruits off of the vine? How can one harvest vegetables without having them loosing their dignity as they are pulled up out of the ground having the sun shine on them in places previously covered over? The poor naked vegetables on display at the market, I can almost hear their screams.

  45. That is fascinating. I don’t think “dignity” would sell too well here in the U.S. We Americans are followers, not reasoners, so if a plant dignity law were to have a chance in this country it should not come with an explanation. Explanations are elitist. Following is doubleplusgood.

  46. “Wanton Destruction For No Good Reason”. Sounds good. What does that mean exactly?

    If I have a reason, “I’m angry”, can I destroy plants? How about animals? How about people?

    Any why are plants more special than bacteria? If I have some diseases, say smallpox, I could live my entire life with it. Isn’t it against the dignity of bacteria to mass slaughter them?

  47. Any rational person

    Dust has dignity too. We should also respect the feelings of Kelloggs Frosties and nobody should ever insult colors. Laws should be passed to this effect.

    And yes, I am totally serious.

  48. are.you.hippies.serious

    Are you hippies for real? OMG LETS BAN LAWNMOWERS! JOHN DEERE = NAZIS

    I am going outside, right now, and “beheading” all the little flowers i can get a hold of

    PS You people on this site shouldnt be allowed to breed

  49. In light of the events in the recent documentary “The Happening”, I for one welcome our new plant overlords.

  50. What planet ate you living on? Have you any idea that we are all related and interconnected, and that we constantly feed on each other?

    Insects, bacteria and viruses feed on us, we feed on animals and plants. We are animals. Other animals feed on animals or plants.

    This is riduclous.

  51. hum. i think this is more about human interests than about the dignity of plants. the connections between some other lifeforms supposed dignity and our own needs are complex, but i can clearly see why disallowing to sell terminated seeds is a good idea.

  52. I hate to break up the Gaia lovefest, but does anyone else think that suggesting picking flowers is a threat to humanity’s survival might be a bit of hyperbole?

  53. Awww boo hoo Guinnevere. I am going to have you tried for murder next time you step on a bug. Or bugslaughter, at the very least. And you WILL like it.

  54. ===Bringing about the pointless destruction of any species, including vegetation, just because one can===

    Nobody brings about the destruction of any species “just because one can”, so that’s a bogus argument.

    ===Humankind has gone much too far already toward self-extinction===

    Ah, you’re not so much interested in the “inherent dignity” (whatever that means) of plants than you are their utility to mankind. That’s a horse of a different color.

    Still, I’m a little concerned with the day when we can’t kill a cockroach when we see it, or stop an infection, because, after all, germs have inherent dignity, too.

    1. I can understand why someone as rude as yourself, Heri, would not comprehend the meaning of the word "dignity". Also, plantlife is the foundation of our entire eco-system. Everything that breathes has life, and everything that has life has consciousness… Maybe try breathing a little more deeply.

  55. I understand why certain people may want to respect or not respect the plant life on the planet. But to make a law about this type of respect is ridiculous. why do plants need legal protection? is the claim that they have interests to protect? or that we have interests in protecting them? i hope it is the latter. still, if we have interests, they do not lie in dignity or humility, but in use. so the law, which also takes proper aim at GMOs, is absurd to mandate general respect towards plants.

  56. There’s another term for the “humiliation” of plants: Wanton Destruction For No Good Reason is what the Swiss Parliament is talking about and trying to prohibit. The dignity of plants is part of – and inseparable from – the dignity of all life. Bringing about the pointless destruction of any species, including vegetation, just because one can, is arrant hubris. Humankind has gone much too far already toward self-extinction by fouling our own world until we cannot survive the poisons with which we’ve laced the environment. I actually think the Swiss law is too little… and too late.

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