Yes there are advocates and activists for and official policy guarding the "dignity" of plants--in Europe of course, Switzerland to be specific.
The Swiss federal government's ethics committee on non-human biotechnology has mapped out guidelines to help granting agencies decide which research applications deeply offend the dignity of plants — and hence become unfundable. [SNIP]When I first heard about this, I guessed that it was all about opposition to biotechnology. The demonization of biotech has managed to continue the cycle of starvation in Africa, but you have to hand it to the Swiss—they’re doing their best to ensure that misery will be shared and shared alike. It just may take longer for it to be felt than has been so in Africa.
Beat Keller of the Institute of Plant Biology at the University of Zurich[…] is running the first field trial — of disease-resistant corn (maize) — to be approved under the new legislation. [SNIP]
Keller sees the issue as providing another tool for opponents to argue against any form of plant biotechnology, which is already very difficult to conduct in Switzerland. [Swiss constitution lawyer at the University of Basel and member of the Swiss federal ethics committee on non-human biotechnology Markus] Schefer says that things will start to become clearer when legal challenges to specific research projects come to court, and case law becomes established.
The committee has created a decision tree presenting the different issues that need to be taken into account for each case. But it has come up with few concrete examples of what type of experiment might be considered an unacceptable insult to plant dignity. 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. The statement has confused plant geneticists, who point out the contrast with traditional plant-hybridization technologies, for example in roses, which require male sterility, and the commercial development of seedless fruits.(Emphasis mine.)
I can’t decide whether to laugh or cry.
You know, between the near-zero population replacement growth of indigenous Europeans, the over-concern for animal dignity in the form of eschewing meat-eating, the opposition to using animals for medical experiments that may lead to saving human life…and now this, one might reasonably conclude that Europe seems content to drag out its commission of suicide.
See also Wesley J. Smith's "The Silent Scream of the Asparagus" at the Weekly Standard.