Plants and their Rights
Giulio Einaudi Editore
Do plants have rights? If so, which ones, and what does acknowledging them involve?
Attributing rights to subjects that do not have them has always been an extravagant idea, and yet we must not forget that black people, women and children once had none, and in our times this also seems unthinkable.
Over the centuries humans have extended rights as a form of reparation for injustices and harm suffered during wars or revolutions. We refer to human wars, but we also fight against a silent, peaceful population on which our survival depends and which, notwithstanding, we have decimated and pushed thousands of species towards extinction: this is the plant population, the biggest on the planet Earth (plants make up approximately 96% of all living things).
Entering an agreement into “peace with the environment” has become essential to solving global problems such as famine, mass migration, desertification, pollution and climate change. We have reached the point where it’s time to reflect on a ‘Universal Declaration of Plant Rights’ that will acknowledge the rights of our ‘green sisters’, thereby guaranteeing ours.
Alessandra Viola, is a science journalist, writing for several newspapers, magazines and television programmes, for which she is a screenwriter and documentary maker. In 2007 she was awarded a Harvard scholarship for the best scientific article of the year.
When a plant no longer bears fruit, cut it down”: for centuries this popular conviction steered our negative relationship with the vegetal world. We live in a short-sighted society that often worries about frivolous things but not about indiscriminate soil consumption, gambling everything on unsustainable development and never stopping to ask how we would live without plants; sensitive, intelligent living beings that our lives depend on in a way we still do not fully understand. A first step towards re-found harmony with the vegetal world would be to acknowledge the rights it deserves. This would have been unthinkable not so long ago, but such acknowledgement is encouraged in Flower Power, plants and their rights, a delightful, well-structured book in which Alessandra Viola takes us on a fascinating journey full of anecdotes and stories through which to discover that silent, peaceful population, unknown to most and widely decimated, and become passionate fans of its defence and denied rights.
After learning about history and economics, physiology and pharmaceutical science, medicine and philosophy, readers will observe with respect not only the Amazon mutilated by fires and deforestation, but also the flower beds in our own gardens or the nettles growing happily along the side of the road.