for Agence France-Presse on April 21, 2008
GENEVA (AFP) - Plants deserve respect, a group of Swiss experts said Monday, arguing that killing them arbitrarily was morally wrong -- except when it comes to saving humans or maybe picking petals off a daisy.
In a report on "the dignity of the creature in the plant world," the federal Ethics Committee on non-human Gene Technology condemned the decapitation of flowers without reason, among other sins.
Still, commission member Bernard Baertsche suggested at a press conference the body weighed such cruel acts on a case-by-case basis, noting "the simple pleasure of picking the petals off a daisy might suffice as a reason."
Similarly "all action that involves plants in the aim to conserve the human species is morally justified," the commission, tasked to offer an ethical take on all areas of biotechnology and genetic engineering, said in its report.
Nor did the commission object to genetic engineering, since this did not threaten plants' "autonomy -- that is their capacity to reproduce or their capacity of adaptation."
And only a minority of the group's members objected to patenting plants, with the majority ruling the action did not infringe on "their moral value."