Hindus were left dismayed after Bank of England refused to withdraw beef-laced banknotes. Hindus, Vegetarians, and Vegans were requesting the Bank of England to withdraw £5 polymer banknotes which reportedly contained traces of tallow.
Bank of England detailed statement, issued on February 15, said: Bank has concluded that it will not withdraw the current £5 polymer banknotes from circulation and will proceed with plans to withdraw legal tender status of the £5 paper banknotes on 5 May 2017; continue with the proposed launch of the new £10 polymer banknotes in September 2017, using the existing polymer substrate.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that it was shocking for the Hindus world over that Bank of England refused to respect the hurt feelings of the Hindu community and decided to continue with objectionable polymer banknotes.
Zed also urged United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister Theresa May and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to intervene.
Consumption of beef is highly conflicting to Hindu beliefs and it is certainly banned from entering Hindu religious centers. Cow, the seat of many deities, is sacred and has long been venerated in Hinduism.
What is tallow that has Hindus, Vegetarians, and Vegans angry?
Tallow is often used for making soaps and candles and is a hard and a fatty substance made from rendered animal fat. The new polymer note uses beef tallow which is made from suet (hard fat found around the animal’s kidneys, stomach and other organs).
Bank of England issues statement over tallow:
The Bank of England says that it was not aware of the presence of animal-derived products when it signed the contract with its supplier for the £5 and £10 banknote polymer. It says that when the Bank discovered the presence of these products, its first step was to alert the public and subsequently has been treating the concerns raised by members of the public with the utmost seriousness. It also says that it has spoken to a number of groups to understand their concerns more fully.
However, the Bank of England says that ‘an extremely small amount of tallow’ is used in an early stage of the production process of polymer pellets, which are then used to create the base substrate for the £5 note.
And it also says that the Bank of England is continuing to work closely with banknote polymer suppliers to determine what alternatives might be available but the bank won’t withdraw the note as it said that the production of banknotes is complicated and that many processes are required to manufacture a secure note of the highest quality, and the lead times involved are therefore significant.
It also cited cost as a factor in determining to keep the note as the production of the new £10 polymer note, which began last August, as the Bank has already printed 275 million notes, at a cost of £24 million, ahead of planned issuance later this year. The Bank of England says that it has also spent £46 million on printing the £5 polymer note. Reprinting these notes on a new substrate would mean incurring these costs again. It would also require a further £50,000 for the secure destruction of the existing stock.
The Bank of England also said that it cannot guarantee sufficient stocks of paper notes to replace the destroyed polymer notes and said that the delay in the issuance of the polymer £10 would also delay the benefits of the increased counterfeit resilience of polymer being achieved for the Bank and the public.
However, the Bank of England says that it is working to make sure that such a controversy does not arise and has said that it is seeking further opinions on the use of animal-derived products and plant-based alternatives before making any decisions on the polymer used in future production runs of £5 and £10 polymer notes and the new £20 polymer note.
The Bank plans to launch a full consultation on 30 March about the content of polymer substrate to be used in its future banknotes.
The Bank of England intends to include a range of information including:
The production process for polymer banknotes;
The importance of high quality, counterfeit-resilient banknotes;
Plant-based alternatives to animal-derived products and their likely viability for banknotes; and
Future cost implications.
Bhaktivedanta Manor criticizes Bank of England, but has little choice:
On the issue of tallow in the note, Bhaktivedanta Manor said that it was shocked and said that it was saddened to receive news that the Bank of England has already printed ten-pound notes containing tallow. It also said that:
As a temple community our ethos is nonviolence. As such we stopped accepting the new five pound notes which in turn impacted the donations we depend on. Now with news of the ten-pound note we will have to review our stance on banning tallow notes. We now find ourselves having to choose between compromising our core religious principles and spiritual values or suffering significant financial losses. We fail to see how in this day and age a public service provider could allow this to not only continue but to become significantly more harmful.
We do welcome the bank’s planned consultation and understand that the costs of correcting the oversight are deemed unacceptable. Currency must be acceptable to all, therefore there is no question, it must be free from animal products.
Earlier, the National Council of Hindu Temples had issued a hard-hitting statement and said:
From the Hindu and Dharmic perspective, producing currency and casually incorporating substances which are derived from acts of violence upon vulnerable non aggressive creatures is not the behaviour of gentle civilised beings. It is not something easily countenanced by Hindus and we feel the pain of the creatures who were killed in this process. The £5.00 note ceases to be a simple medium of exchange but becomes a medium for communicating pain and suffering and we would not want to come into contact with it. Hindu temples are centres of positive holistic compassionate humanity and we can fully understand that Hindu Temples would consider that they wish to remain free of a symbol of the wholesale barbaric slaughter of tranquil, vulnerable and fully sentient beings.