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By Andrew F. Smith

Drawing on study in plant technology, platforms ecology, environmental philosophy, and cultural anthropology, Andrew F. Smith shatters the excellence among vegetarianism and omnivorism. The publication outlines the consequences that those synthetic differences have for a way we view nutrients and ourselves as eaters.

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But they should not be taken as strikes against sentience either. Among the core signatures of sentience is self-awareness: the capacity to distinguish self from other or, as DeGrazia puts it, “the ability to distinguish one’s own body from the rest of Plant Sentience 23 the environment” (1996, 166). Available evidence suggests that this also is a capacity that plants have. Plants are capable of differentiating themselves from competing and noncompeting organisms and even discriminating between kin and nonkin (Karban and Shiojiri 2009).

Their responses to wounding are not the equivalent of an ouch, even if these responses do entail the modulation of their development. Indeed, plants do not have nociceptors: neurons that specialize in sensing noxious stimuli. 5 Without nociceptors, it is not clear that these experiences are possible, Chamowitz concludes. Why then do plants excrete endogenous opioids, most notably ethylene, when wounded or subject to stress (Buhner 2002, 197)? 6 How they respond to insect bites, fire, and drought may give us an answer.

Perhaps this is not so. I am in no position to get involved in the finer points of whatever debate there may be. It should go without saying, though, that if expansionary sentientists reject principled suicide, they reject nonviable diets as well. 11 Bringing an end to conventional agriculture, or at least doing what we can to avoid eating its products, surely is in order. The optimal source of food for plants is nutrient-rich soil, not the petrochemicals on which conventional agriculture depends.

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