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Humans must recognize that plants are people too

The recent barrage of animal rights literature that has saturated our campus has opened my eyes to the nightmarish crimes that occur around the clock in American laboratories. While animal rights groups are certainly to be commended for their efforts, I now believe that a still greater tragedy has passed unnoticed by the vast majority of our citizens -- the wholesale abuse and slaughter of plants.

I have arrived at this conclusion only after a great deal of soul-searching. The traditional animal rights position, of course, states that using animals for human benefit is morally bankrupt. We are informed that justifying animal research by claiming that humans are inherently more valuable than animals is unreasonable; it is only our anthropocentric bias which leads us to conclude that animals are less important simply because they differ from human beings. While this is true, the same analysis applies quite readily to our botanical friends as well. Merely because plants are incapable of motion, emit no brain waves, and have no social structure or mechanism for communication, we arrogantly assume that we may ruthlessly exploit them for our own ends.

We have become so inured to the horrors of plant abuse that we fail to note even egregious violations of this truly righteous "biocentric" philosophy: the seasonal mass execution of billions of wheat and barley organisms, cut down in their prime; the deliberate breeding of new forms of plant life specifically for human consumption; and, most shocking of all, the deliberate torture and mutilation of plants such as grass merely to satisfy human vanity. Such horrors can no longer be ignored. We, possessing faculties which our brothers in the plant community may lack, must act to protect them from such savagery.

Daniel A. Gilbert '91->