Call it what you like, but plants respond to other organisms in their environment and communicate among themselves. They form complicated and interconnected communities. Trees in the forest actually communicate information about danger not only via the release of volatile compounds like acetylene gas, but also via a nervous-system-like network of mycorrhizae, a cooperative arrangement that not only connects multiple organisms, but one that spans multiple kingdoms.
Bacterial and archaea communicate with other microbes via complex chemical signals, even cooperating in forming complex biofilm communities that go to war with other communities. They also communicate with higher organisms, including their human hosts. Current research is beginning to show that organisms in our microbiome can actually influence our behavior and health - to the degree that they can actually command us to gain or lose weight. Research in mice has shown that a protozoan can control the behavior of its host mouse making it more likely to be eaten by a cat, the other host in the parasitic organism's life cycle.
Organisms across all kingdoms respond to stimuli in their environment and communicate with other organisms in extremely complex ways that we are only beginning to understand. Claiming that humans have no special status above animals because animals can feel pain and then claiming that humans and animals have a special status above other organisms because their anatomy is more foreign and their manifestation of response to negative stimuli doesn't involve a central nervous system is a bit hypocritical because the line-drawing is equally arbitrary. Humans are animals. We don't gather energy directly from sunlight. We don't fix carbon. We obtain our energy and building materials from other organisms, just like all other animals. Any moral component to this is a completely human construct. Perhaps that is what separates us from the other animals. Our navel-gazing.