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'Dignity' of animals

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A provision in Switzerland's constitution recognizes the "dignity" of "animals, plants and other organisms," and a federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Gene Technology declared in an April report that vegetation has "inherent worth" and that humans cannot exercise "absolute ownership" over it but must treat it morally, measured case-by-case. For example, the committee said a farmer's mowing his field is acceptable, but not the arbitrary severing of a wildflower's bloom. The committee would permit genetic engineering of flora, since plants would still retain the "autonomy" to reproduce on their own.

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