There is quite a bit of debate about whether aging is a degenerative, uncontrolled process or a programmed process. At least, there is quite a bit of debate among zoologists.
Apparently, the botanists have long ago come to the conclusion that aging is programmed. Read this: “Senescence, the final stage in the development of an organ or whole plant, is a genetically programmed process controlled by developmental and environmental signals.” That’s in a paper published by scientists at the USDA. And they’re not alone, there are multiple other groups that take the same view.
I’m not sure why the plant scientists have so much faster come to this conclusion than animal scientists. It may be because in plants, certain parts of the organism can age and dies separately from rest of the plant. For example, leaves can age and die every year on a plant. Or it may be because the signaling molecules for aging have been identified. For example, ethylene and jasmonic acid (yes, the scene of jasmine), triggers senescence in leaves. (And those signals can be blocked, by the way–some insects block aging so that they can stay in their “homes”).The aging process in plants is very defined, with clear molecular cascades, and under control of chemical signaling molecules. I supposed that if there was chemical that would trigger people to age, there wouldn’t be a debate about humans either.
I should note, that per my Red King Theory, that two things most likely to trigger or accelerate aging are 1) parasites and pests and 2) sex. Jasmonic acid is a signaling molecule triggered by insects eating the plants. If my theory is correct, it makes absolute sense that jasmonic acid should accelerate aging.
What does this mean? Well, it means either 1) aging in plants and animals are fundamentally difference or 2) aging in animals is a programmed process. I think #1 strains all reasonable credulity.