Are plants smarter than humans?
Yes, in many respects they are. Plants can detect the saliva of the caterpillar that is eating the leaves, identify the species of moth or butterfly from it, and then emit a specific perfume that attracts the exact wasp which is a predator to the caterpillar. The wasp lays its eggs in the caterpillar, which then dies to feed the wasp larvae.
Not only that, but the plant sends a chemical signal to its neigbours of the same species, which triggers production of toxins that make them less palatable to future invasions of the same caterpillars.
If you go along with the current evolutionary views, humans have evolved over about 2 million years. But plants have evolved over one and a half BILLION years. Plants are the all time survivors on this planet. So they are much more advanced in so many ways we are only just starting to appreciate. Because they can't run away from their predators, they have a veritable army of chemicals and detection systems that can sense heat, light, and all manner of chemicals.
So it's no wonder that plants have so many chemicals to help us. We have evolved to live in harmony with them. That's why our modern processed diet is so unnatural.
I've recently become worried that genetic modification totally ignores these vital skills that plants have, just focussing on making them bigger or more productive for human needs. How can a scientist choose parent genetic material when he doesn't even know what traits he is selecting, just focussing on size? It's like breeding a human crossed with an elephant and expecting the offspring to fit into society.
What is the future of healthcare? NOT PHARMACEUTICALS is what most scientists are saying. Instead, they say it will be targeted nutrition. Will plant-derived products take over? Well, not if the western world's focus on patents, profit and monopoly continues. But the global economy is changing. In 20 years or so the commercial centre will be China, and their medical business is centred very much on traditional botany. So the future may well be botanic, not pharmaceutical.
One thing is for sure. The future will be scientifically very interesting.
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