The Bank of England has announced it will continue to use plastic banknotes containing traces of animal fat, in a move that is likely to outrage animal rights activists.
A row broke out in November when the central bank admitted that its new five pound notes contain tallow with more than 137,000 people signing a petition demanding it “cease to use animal products in the production of currency that we have to use”.
On Thursday, the Bank said that “after careful and serious consideration and extensive public consultation there will be no change to the composition of polymer used for future banknotes”.
Vegetarian Tory MP Henry Smith was one of a number of social media users who tweeted their disappointment over the news.
— Henry Smith MP (@HenrySmithUK) August 10, 2017
Some religious groups, including Sikhs and Jains, were also unhappy that the new £5 banknotes contain animal products, with the National Council of Hindu Temples having issued a statement which said the new £5 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”.
The Bank said it “had not taken this decision lightly”, and had taken consideration of its obligations under the Equality Act 2010, but reported that the only viable alternative would be to use palm oil which “raises questions about environmental sustainability”.
Noting that switching to this would cost taxpayers more than £16 million over the next 10 years, it added: “Value for money was also a consideration in the Bank’s decision.”
Doug Maw — who launched the Change.org petition demanding the central bank produces only animal product-free banknotes — blasted the decision, announcing that he intends to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
ECHR & legal action up next after demo on 14 September. 88% of consultation responded against use of animals yet they don't care…
— Christian Vegan (@dougmaw) August 10, 2017
“By only having bank notes containing animal parts they are forcing vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others to handle products that directly conflict with their deeply held beliefs and practices,” he said in a statement.
The vegan activist also announced he is planning a demonstration outside the Bank of England in September, to protest the release of the new £10 note, adding: “The world is waking up to animal use and abuse.”
The statement concludes: “I invite the Bank to reverse this decision, stop using animals as products, start listening to people who have to use their products and act with honour.”