6

votes

Are plants more like us then we think (or give them credit)?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 08, 2012 at 9:43 PM

Do Plants Think? Scientist Daniel Chamovitz Says They See, Feel, Smell, Remember

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/05/do-plants-think-daniel-chamovitz-see-feel-smell_n_1571027.html

Think about Venus flytraps and other carnivorous plants and those plants whose leaves shrink when you touch them.

A thoughtful set of questions would be can plants sense or feel pain?

Might the evolving thoughts on plants make Paleo a bit more palatable to some who hail being vegan or vegetarian?

An excerpt:

"But while plants don???t have neurons, plants both produce and are affected by neuroactive chemicals! For example, the glutamate receptor is a neuroreceptor in the human brain necessary for memory formation and learning. While plants don???t have neurons, they do have glutamate receptors and what???s fascinating is that the same drugs that inhibit the human glutamate receptor also affect plants. From studying these proteins in plants, scientists have learned how glutamate receptors mediate communication from cell to cell. So maybe the question should be posed to a neurobiologist if there could be a botany of humans, minus the flowers!

Darwin, one of the great plant researchers, proposed what has become known as the ???root-brain??? hypothesis. Darwin proposed that the tip of the root, the part that we call the meristem, acts like the brain does in lower animals, receiving sensory input and directing movement. Several modern-day research groups are following up on this line of research."

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 09, 2012
at 04:54 PM

About vegans/vegetarians: there are many reasons why people become vegetarian or vegan. Some of them for health reasons, others for environmental reasons, some of them based on scientifically founded ideas that animal can suffer much more than they used to think, others because of the visual similarities. There's no such thing as 'a vegetarian' or 'a vegan', some base themselves on sentimental reasons, others on scientific ones.

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 09, 2012
at 04:52 PM

"Just let be kind during their life". I definitely agree, but the truth is that the mass meat industry doesn't seem to think about it that way (just look at http://www.amazon.com/Slaughterhouse-Shocking-Inhumane-Treatment-Industry/dp/1573921661). I buy organic meat that comes from free-range farms myself, but the people who do this are a minority. Since meat from the mass slaughterhouses (especially in the U.S.) isn't particularly healthy nor animal-friendly, I don't think genetically engineered food can't be that much worse...

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 09, 2012
at 02:02 PM

And re: animals without suffering - everything living dies. A life without sensation is less of a life, no? Pain is required for self protection. Without it we are as far from nature as we can be.......Id hate to see us derange nature even futher, and the lives of living creatures, out of our own personal fear of death and pain, which are a part of the natural order...lets just be kind to animals while they live huh? (Besides by the time all this would be happing, there will be not enough meat for humans and well all be eating insects!)

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 09, 2012
at 01:55 PM

Your roughly right with answer, but then again, I dont think the vegan criteria for "can I eat it" really has anything to do with pain.... I think it has to do with visual and behavioural similarity to humans. Even if plants were proven to feel pain, I doubt they get any more sympathy than flies or bugs, because they dont trigger empathy chemicals based on their appearance & behaviour.

D1bead0bba41886d39bb124826a86259

(80)

on June 09, 2012
at 01:53 PM

Laughed heartily as well.

7fc82eebafd44badc73c520f44660150

(3275)

on June 09, 2012
at 01:30 PM

I wonder if cannibals feel guilty? (from a circle of life perspective?)

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 09, 2012
at 01:15 PM

I'm not an advocate for genetic engineering altogether; I'm just saying that if we would get to the point where we can 'clone animals without the pain receptors' (for food), we wouldn't need the animal altogether anymore. I'm not saying that'd necessarily be a good evolution, although the idea of getting meat without inflicting any suffering on an animal does sound appealing, of course.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 09, 2012
at 01:12 PM

Did you know potatoes have more visible differences between them than people? And that potatoes have two more genes than humans?

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 09, 2012
at 01:11 PM

Why feel guilty at all? Its the circle of life....

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 09, 2012
at 01:09 PM

Gezz, our food is messed up enough already. You may as well just genocide the human race and get it over with if your gonna start growing meat trees and gene engineering our food to heck...

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 09, 2012
at 12:52 PM

Mating dance of the potato is funny :P (although kinda bizzare argument) Did you know potatoes have two more genes than humans, and there is more visable differences between potatoes than people?

584cdd1a2dd83e46b8b76758f4c57b19

(600)

on June 09, 2012
at 01:41 AM

I can't stop laughing :)

D811808d3bfa5aebc7a1bd971fb6375b

on June 08, 2012
at 11:43 PM

Seriously. Made me laugh out loud.

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 08, 2012
at 10:18 PM

When we get to that point, we'll probably be able to generate our own meat without there having been an animal in the first place. :)

E8dd83fe24a0879d8b16ab4ca92b72dd

(1307)

on June 08, 2012
at 10:00 PM

What happens when animals start being cloned without pain receptors? A bunch of Riley Day cows in a field...Huxley and Dick would be screaming, "SEE! WE TOLD YOU SO!"

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10 Answers

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1
Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 09, 2012
at 01:07 PM

Great article!

I have known that plants have a CNS for ages. Its well accepted in plant biology. Thats why plants have chemicals that get us high, because these chemicals are part of the plants CNS.

One example, is they most certainly have an endocannabinoid system, like animals, to deal with shock, toxicity and adaption, like in animals.

In that sense, they definately "detect" pain. Whether they feel it or not is as philosophical as asking the same question of animals, or even other people - you cant directly know..

Of course any animal that is a lower mammal or less cannot anticipate pain, in the way a primate or dolphin/whale/elephant/human can. We can actually prove this, via behaviours (unlike with plants, which have no behaviours per se).

That in itself is a reason vegans should check their heads:-

  • Lower mammals, birds and fish, do not think and feel like us. They certainly feel, and think, but not exactly like us -there are proven differences...

  • And plants - we cannot tell what they feel, short of complex studies of their CNS, electrochemical communications, and other abstract things..So whether they feel things is simply a mystery...

The assumption that plants feel less, and lower mammals feel more is simply an overextension of a biological empathy intended for other humans. In other words, its easier to feel sorry for, or close to, something human like, than something un human like. Anthrocentric thinking, and biological empathy run amok..

Thats why nobody has any major problem killing insects, but anything cute, fluffy with big eyes is close enough to a human baby to get the neurochemical reaction.

Ever thought about why they are always saving the koala or the dolphins but no one gives an arse about the giant weta, or the vampire bat?

and whats freakier -many plants are still alive when you chop them up, or eat them...so if they do feel pain, unlike animals we have no sensitivity towards it (we dont ensure the plant dies quickly, or if its even dead before we eat it...we just mercilessly hack and chew)

From a purely objective point of veiw, I cannot say I know one way or another if plants feel. They have no behaviours (other than electrochemical signals and growth patterns), so its impossible to tell without very detailed science. They have all the rudimentary NT elements chemically of a CNS, and they have receptors, so they do have a CNS of some kind, and its somewhat similar to that in animals - the chemicals have similar roles as with animals. Beyond that, who knows....

Animals (lower), I know they feel, but also that they dont feel all the same things as people, such as anticipation of pain.

As such, objectivily, i would never choose to be vegan for ethical reasons.

I can certainly choose not to eat monkeys, whales or elephants on the grounds they are most likely more sensitive than lower mammals, and if I was more concerned about the suffering of my food than my own health (which seems pretty dumb), i would perhaps eat lower on the evolutionary scale (like fish for example), but theres not evidence for anything else, and not all that much good comparitive science on the experiences of animals or their intelligence anyway...

(its hard science to perform, lets face it, especially without assumptions galore - a good example is that some primates are smarter in the wild for tool use, because they teach each other - but isolate one in a lab, and you dont see that same range of behaviours...and primates are better with sign language or icons, but cant vocalise - yet they can still learn language to some degree, similar to a 7 ish year old human...by imposing human limitations on how they learn - such as taking them from their peer group, or using vocalised words, weve already missed a great deal of their intelligence...I imagine those obstacles get greater the further from human an animal or plant is)

However, even though id never be vegan, if I had to eat a baby to survive, trapped in the artic, I am sure my chemicals would give me trouble!!! :P :D..

Lets just hope the baby has horns, mandibles, bug eyes, six legs, is green, or has a trunk and leaves, and then ill be fine..:D

11
E8dd83fe24a0879d8b16ab4ca92b72dd

(1307)

on June 08, 2012
at 09:49 PM

Oh, shit. Vegans no longer have anything to eat! F*CK YOU SCIENCE!!

D811808d3bfa5aebc7a1bd971fb6375b

on June 08, 2012
at 11:43 PM

Seriously. Made me laugh out loud.

D1bead0bba41886d39bb124826a86259

(80)

on June 09, 2012
at 01:53 PM

Laughed heartily as well.

7
Cc3ce03985eac5ebcbb95fc2329f13b0

on June 08, 2012
at 10:16 PM

This, of course, explains the incredible social structure of plants, including the beautiful mating dance of the potato.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 09, 2012
at 12:52 PM

Mating dance of the potato is funny :P (although kinda bizzare argument) Did you know potatoes have two more genes than humans, and there is more visable differences between potatoes than people?

584cdd1a2dd83e46b8b76758f4c57b19

(600)

on June 09, 2012
at 01:41 AM

I can't stop laughing :)

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 09, 2012
at 01:12 PM

Did you know potatoes have more visible differences between them than people? And that potatoes have two more genes than humans?

2
E8dd83fe24a0879d8b16ab4ca92b72dd

(1307)

on June 09, 2012
at 01:19 AM

Well...hmmm. Turns out this guy was right all along: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3e5wueoN4U

SUCK IT, FOOD! WE DON'T EVEN NEED YOU!

ohmygodsohungry

1
5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on June 09, 2012
at 01:21 AM

Oh gawd, not again. * face palm * Next it'll be back to the 1970's experiments with torturing brine shrimp to get an emotional reaction out of plants.

NOOOOOOO0000000 Spare the shrimp!!!!!!!!!!

1
F0a3e3f17d9a740810ac37ff2353a9f3

(3804)

on June 09, 2012
at 12:33 AM

Well, we've got to eat something.

1
F31d10b54b31428e189d9b771bf7b1d1

on June 09, 2012
at 12:00 AM

And Meher Baba says that plants have very rudimentary consciousnesses. Who are you going to believe, a scientist or a true spiritual teacher?

The consciousness of plants are not encumbered by much of an ego; this is probably why we like to stroll in nature. But their consciousness is barely at home.

1
7fc82eebafd44badc73c520f44660150

on June 08, 2012
at 10:24 PM

If you're suggesting plants have a soul, should I feel as guilty eating a salad as a burger?

Mike

7fc82eebafd44badc73c520f44660150

(3275)

on June 09, 2012
at 01:30 PM

I wonder if cannibals feel guilty? (from a circle of life perspective?)

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 09, 2012
at 01:11 PM

Why feel guilty at all? Its the circle of life....

0
F31d10b54b31428e189d9b771bf7b1d1

on July 05, 2012
at 07:53 PM

I think that if plants have extremely rudimentary consciousness, then they probably welcome getting eating. If cows, for example, are treated properly, then we serve them by giving them a chance to (1) have the experience of our loving company, (2) live. If we do not "exploit" and eat cattle, then they would never exist. The vegans are completely out to lunch, a rather lame lunch. If no one eats bison, then there won't be any bison and they will never have existed and will never had the opportunity to grow spiritually. Vegan philosophy may be well intentioned, but it is shallow and short-sighted and based upon false premises. All souls are eternal. No one ever dies. We human beings are meat eaters. As long as we treat the animals with loving care, I am ready with my fork to eat.

0
1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 08, 2012
at 09:55 PM

Might the evolving thoughts on plants make Paleo a bit more palatable to some who hail being vegan or vegetarian?

I wouldn't say so. The thesis plants can see, hear, feel, react to the environment is still not commonly accepted. But I don't think it matters that much. What vegetarians/vegans look for (or should look for if their concern is animal welfare) is whether the species they do not eat can experience pain. Unless there is very strong evidence for it, I doubt plants can experience pain in the same way and to the same extent animals can (if they actually can experience pain in the first place). Besides, within the animal group, there are still huge differences (an insect can't experience pain to the same extent a pig can, for instance).

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 09, 2012
at 01:15 PM

I'm not an advocate for genetic engineering altogether; I'm just saying that if we would get to the point where we can 'clone animals without the pain receptors' (for food), we wouldn't need the animal altogether anymore. I'm not saying that'd necessarily be a good evolution, although the idea of getting meat without inflicting any suffering on an animal does sound appealing, of course.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 09, 2012
at 02:02 PM

And re: animals without suffering - everything living dies. A life without sensation is less of a life, no? Pain is required for self protection. Without it we are as far from nature as we can be.......Id hate to see us derange nature even futher, and the lives of living creatures, out of our own personal fear of death and pain, which are a part of the natural order...lets just be kind to animals while they live huh? (Besides by the time all this would be happing, there will be not enough meat for humans and well all be eating insects!)

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 08, 2012
at 10:18 PM

When we get to that point, we'll probably be able to generate our own meat without there having been an animal in the first place. :)

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 09, 2012
at 04:54 PM

About vegans/vegetarians: there are many reasons why people become vegetarian or vegan. Some of them for health reasons, others for environmental reasons, some of them based on scientifically founded ideas that animal can suffer much more than they used to think, others because of the visual similarities. There's no such thing as 'a vegetarian' or 'a vegan', some base themselves on sentimental reasons, others on scientific ones.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 09, 2012
at 01:55 PM

Your roughly right with answer, but then again, I dont think the vegan criteria for "can I eat it" really has anything to do with pain.... I think it has to do with visual and behavioural similarity to humans. Even if plants were proven to feel pain, I doubt they get any more sympathy than flies or bugs, because they dont trigger empathy chemicals based on their appearance & behaviour.

1e443a3241f80129faa05125ce346e47

(734)

on June 09, 2012
at 04:52 PM

"Just let be kind during their life". I definitely agree, but the truth is that the mass meat industry doesn't seem to think about it that way (just look at http://www.amazon.com/Slaughterhouse-Shocking-Inhumane-Treatment-Industry/dp/1573921661). I buy organic meat that comes from free-range farms myself, but the people who do this are a minority. Since meat from the mass slaughterhouses (especially in the U.S.) isn't particularly healthy nor animal-friendly, I don't think genetically engineered food can't be that much worse...

E8dd83fe24a0879d8b16ab4ca92b72dd

(1307)

on June 08, 2012
at 10:00 PM

What happens when animals start being cloned without pain receptors? A bunch of Riley Day cows in a field...Huxley and Dick would be screaming, "SEE! WE TOLD YOU SO!"

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 09, 2012
at 01:09 PM

Gezz, our food is messed up enough already. You may as well just genocide the human race and get it over with if your gonna start growing meat trees and gene engineering our food to heck...

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