It's twenty years now since scientists first crossed a chicken with an apple to produce the world's first corn-fed Granny Smith. What was, at the time, just a scientific curiosity is now a major industry, encompassing an ever-expanding menagerie of animal-vegetable hybrids. But it's an industry that is still not without its critics. Those who oppose the practice claim that it is dangerous, unnatural and weird - and their protests are being taken seriously. The PLAFP - The People's League Against Fruit Poultry - is just one of the many pressure groups that has scored notable campaign successes, most recently halting plans to expand the Kilburn Fruit Hatchery, a leading supplier of exotic 'vegimals'.
"We're not against progress," said PLAFP campaigner, Jemimah Pulp. "Far from it, but in the interests of safety we think there should be better controls - and I think that anybody who's ever been bitten by a tomato would agree with that. It's not nice walking down the fresh produce aisle of your local supermarket, with all that yapping and chirping and clucking and croaking. It's disconcerting to find yourself being glared at by a potato. And only last week we heard of someone being pecked to death by plums, so we don't think we are over-exaggerating the dangers."
We approached Kilburn Fruit Hatchery but they refused to comment on the case. They did, however, issue a statement. They explained that the food products they supply have been rigorously tested in accordance with current government guidelines and are certified safe for human consumption. They admit that their grapefruits can get restless if they are not stored correctly, and that sometimes a cauliflower chicken can seem intimidating once it's past its sell-by date. Despite this, the company is at pains to point out that none of their fruit hybrids has teeth, and that in the unlikely event that you purchase a belligerent mango the most it can do is give you nasty suck.