Seeking Illusionary “Jolly Green Giant”

People come up with all sorts of crazy ideas that may look good on paper, but never work out.

Some ideas are simply humorous failures. Others are potentially immoral and dangerous, such as those that attempt to alter God’s perfect creation.

One such thought has been around for years—the idea that you can somehow combine plants and animals into a new creature.

For decades, vegetable producer Green Giant Company has used the Jolly Green Giant to promote its products. The large, green man gives the impression that he’s part man, part plant.

More recently, one of the stars featured in the 2014 film “Guardians of the Galaxy” was “Groot,” a tree with human-like characteristics. He walks, hears, feels and talks, although only saying “I am Groot.”

Based on the longstanding comic book series by Marvel Comics, the creature can also: absorb wood for food, rebuild himself, control trees and has a genius-level intellect.

Is this just entertaining science fiction or is science moving toward human-plant hybrids?

Proponents of  plant-human hybrids  point to Elysia Chlorotica, a leaf-shaped sea slug that some scientists believe is part animal, part plant. Their conclusion is based on what they believe is the animal’s apparent ability to produce the most common form of chlorophyll.

Invertebrate zoologist John Zardus of The Citadel was quoted by wired.com saying: “This could be a fusion of a plant and an animal—that’s just cool.”

The idea may appear cool, but it’s not a reality. “Just because an animal has some characteristics of a plant does not make it an animal-plant hybrid,” GRTL President Dan Becker said.

Becker also pointed to the Venus flytrap, a plant that catches and consumes insects.  “It’s a plant, pure and simple,” Becker added. “It’s just one of the wonders of God’s creation.”

But, those facts don’t discourage those in the scientific community who want to alter nature.

Life Science recently explored the idea of combining animals and plants in an article entitled: “I am Groot: Is a walking talking plant-person possible?”

The article proclaims: “Plants that can smell and animals that regenerate show that animal and vegetable kingdoms may not be as far apart as they first appear. Some scientists even say earth’s biology suggests the possibility of ‘thinking plants’ somewhere in the universe.”

Danny Chamovitz, Director of the Manner Center for Plant Biosciences at Tel Aviv University, told Life Science that plants have a much richer, more dynamic life than most people give credit for them. “We think of plants as un-living because they’re unmoving.  The strong scientific evidence is that plants have every sense familiar to animals, except hearing.”

Simon Gilroy, a professor of botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told Life Science that plants: “Respond to chemicals with lock-and-key mechanisms that resemble how animals smell,” and “…they know when they’re being touched.”

Plants also have proprioception, or a sense of their location in space, Chamovitz explained, which is why they can tell if they’re planted upside down.

Chamovitz added that plants not only send signals within their own bodies, but those signals can also influence other plants. In short, they communicate.

He said a disease or pest infestation in a neighboring plant sends out chemical signals that causes nearby plants to respond. “They can smell when neighbors are sick. It gives off a chemical, so the plant defends itself.”

The article concludes with: “As for creating plant-animal hybrids here on earth, that’s most likely to happen in a geneticist’s lab. It’s theoretically possible, given the right gene transfers, to give people a coating of green, photosynthetic skin. To actually make much use of such a feature, however, people would have to grow a canopy of leaves.”

Really?  Humans with a canopy of leaves?

“This is another sad example of science going off the rails,” Becker said. “Genesis Chapter 1 makes it absolutely clear that God created plants, fish, animals and humans according to ‘their kind.’ Any attempt to alter God’s creation is immoral.”

Becker added: “There’s a huge difference between making peoples’ lives better—such as with artificial limbs—and trying to turn people into something they’re not. Human-plant hybrids should be off limits.”

Sources: foxnews.com; life science; wired.com; retroplanet.com.

 

By Wayne DuBois
Media Relations Advisor