IgNobel award for plant dignity, according to articles in Improbable Research, BBC News Online and swissinfo.ch, 3 Oct 2008.

Each year the editors of the magazine Annals of Improbable Research (for “research that cannot or should not be reproduced”) present awards named IgNobels to scientists whose research “makes people laugh then think”.

This year’s winner of the Peace Prize was “The Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology (ECNH) and the citizens of Switzerland for adopting the legal principle that plants have dignity.” The Ethics committee report was originally published as “The Dignity of Living Beings with Regard to Plants. Moral Consideration of Plants for Their Own Sake”. This caused some concern amongst biologists that biotechnology research on plants may be hindered. (See Nature, vol. 452, p919, 24 April 2008.)

The prize was accepted on behalf of the ECNH by Urs Thurnherr of the University of Education in Karlsruhe, Germany. In his acceptance speech he asked if anyone in the audience had ever forgotten to water their plants, and if the plants subsequently died, he asked, “did that make you uneasy in any way? If so, you may be ready for our paper.”

Other recipients of IgNobels included a mathematical model that showed heaps of string, wires, hair and other strands inevitably get tangled up; research that showed fleas who live on dogs jump higher than fleas who live on cats; a study that showed crisps taste better if they sound crunchier; a report on the role of armadillos in disturbing archaeological sites; and an experiment that proved slime moulds can solve puzzles.


Editorial Comment: Many years ago one of our colleagues jokingly said we should start a movement called “Plant Rights” to challenge evolutionist vegan and vegetarian Animal Rights claims. After all, if evolution is true, then plants are just as highly evolved as animals and people, so why discriminate against them by eating them or experimenting on them or even mowing the lawn or killing weeds?

The Swiss group, who take themselves very seriously, are at least being more consistent in their thinking than the editors of the Annals of Improbable Research who laughed at them. However, we wonder what the Swiss think they can eat or wear if they think plants have too much dignity to be exploited by human beings. Genesis tells that plants are intrinsically different from animals and people and were always meant to be eaten and used (wisely) by human beings.

Evidence News 29 October 2008

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