Dratshang petitions against meat processing project

Religion: The Pung-Thim dratshang (central monastic body) yesterday submitted a petition to the prime minister through the cabinet secretary, requesting the government to consider stopping the ongoing mega-meat processing project.

Signed by four lopons of the zhung-dratshang, and stamped with an official seal of the central monastic body, the petition states that, according to the zhung dratshang, the initiative is a non-virtuous project, and was seen to be inappropriate for a Buddhist country.

The petition stated that the opening of such a non-virtuous project in a Buddhist country that has been blessed by many great bodhisattvas would be equal to converting a pure land of the Buddhas (heaven) into a butchers’ zone.

It also stated that, according to Buddhist philosophy, killing is the most non-virtuous deed.  Such acts, the monastic body believes, would subsequently result in diseases, conflicts, war and unhappiness in society.

The petition also stated that the move would upset the guardian deities and spirits of the land, and that the deities wouldn’t render appropriate protection.  Such acts, the monastic body believes, would cause natural disasters.

They also believe that starting such projects might direct people to take the wrong path from a spiritual point of view.

The petition was submitted soon after the government planned to come up with 11 mega meat projects to make the country self-sufficient in meat, and to curb the rupee outflow.

The government has acquired more than 800 acres of land at Samrang in Samdrupjongkhar to set up farms for broiler, turkey, cattle, goat nucleus and warm water fish.  Other projects include a piggery at Yusipang, and trout farm in Haa.

The government will be spending Nu 675.72M (million) for the projects, with additional funding of Nu 100M from the government of India.

By Dawa Gyelmo 

35 replies
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  1. MIGNIEN
    MIGNIEN says:

    ANSWER TO LEO DRUKPA ON 13 MAY PART ONE
    Thanks for your interest of my comments ; the debate is a good thing in a democraty. I answer word by words to your exposure a little desorganized .
    1/ To day , most of butchers are indians . Do you accept that Buthanese are supplied by indians ; although the country is able to apply all the chain from breeding to slaughter ; and so produce organic meat food good for the health food for health population ; and can be exported with benefits .
    END PART ONE

  2. Takzee
    Takzee says:

    If at all we need to stop slaughter House in our Country, The first & for most is to stop producing what is going to the SH. I mean Pig,poultry, cattle, Goat etc.
    Many semi-mega commercials are already establish/establishing with free support from Livestock Department.
    This product will definitely go for slaughtering either in the SH or local method slaughtering.

    Just my opinion

  3. depbaap
    depbaap says:

    I would like to put some facts and figures to highlight that livestock based economy is more energy intensive, environmentally damaging in addition to what it can do to hurt religious feeling and well being of country as a whole. Please go through the following:

    ” Some foods are very efficient in their use of resources to produce a nutritious meal and other foods are very inefficient. Fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts tend to be very efficient foods in terms of energy and water use. Animal based foods are heavy users of energy and water and the production of animal based foods generate an inordinate amount of GHGs. The United Nations states that livestock farming is responsible for 18% of the carbon dioxide equivalents emitted worldwide, more emissions than the entire transportation sector [134]. Although the volume of methane released from agriculture is less than the volume released in the transportation sector, each unit of methane has about 25 times the global warming potential as carbon dioxide [59].

    Livestock Farming vs Crop Farming
    Livestock farming is a very inefficient method of producing food when compared to crop farming. Our community could substantially reduce its energy consumption and GHG emissions by moving toward a plant-based diet. The production of animal protein requires about eight times the fossil fuel energy as the production of plant protein [135]. On average, animal protein production in the U.S. requires roughly 28 kilocalories (kcal) of fossil fuel energy for every kcal of protein produced for human consumption. Beef production requires 54 kilocalories of fossil fuel for every kcal of protein produced [135, 116].

    Land Use
    Producing animal protein is a land-intensive and inefficient process. Fifty-six percent of U.S. agricultural land is used to produce beef. An acre of land can produce 20,000 pounds of potatoes or 165 pounds of beef [136]

    Water Use
    Livestock farming is very water intensive. There are various estimates of the amount of water needed to raise cattle, and part of the complication is determining how much food they eat and how much water is needed to grow the food. One estimate is that each kilogram of beef requires 3,682 liters of water, most of which is needed to grow the food that cattle eat [137]. Another study made a rough estimate that a kilogram of beef requires 15 metric tons of water (15,000 liters) [138]. Another estimate, from David Pimentel, is a bit more controversial and suggested that that grain-fed beef production requires 100,000 liters of water for every kilogram of food [135], but more recent work by the same researcher suggested that the number is 43,000 liters of water per kilogram of beef [139]. Pimentel’s also estimated that raising broiler chickens takes 3,500 liters of water to make a kilogram of meat. In comparison, Pimentel estimated that soybean production uses 2,000 liters for each kilogram of food produced; 1,912–1600 liters for rice; 900 liters for wheat; and 500–630 liters for potatoes [135, 139]. Although there is great variation in the estimates, the conclusion remains that beef requires an enormous amount of water per kilogram of food—and water requires energy for pumping and treatment.

    Greenhouse Gas Emissions
    The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization states that the livestock sector generates more GHG emissions, as measured in carbon dioxide equivalents, than the transport sector. The livestock sector produces approximately 18% of worldwide GHG emissions.

    Ratio of Energy Input to Food-Energy Output
    Lamb 57:1
    Beef cattle 40:1
    Eggs 39:1
    Swine 14:1
    Dairy (milk) 14:1
    Turkey 10:1
    Chicken 4:1
    Corn 1:4
    Source: From Sustainability of Meat-Based and Plant-Based Diets and the Environment by D. Pimentel and M. Pimental in J. of Amer. Clinical Nutrition, 78(suppl) p. 660S– 663S.

    Happy reading

  4. Diggle
    Diggle says:

    I think Zhung Dratshang should also write petition against sterilization of Dog conducted by Humane Society International (HSI) in country so called Bhutan. If we think from Buddhist perspective even sterilizing or neutering is considered sin. So, why Zhung Dratshang is not against it? Well, let me tell you the reason. By sterilizing Dog, it reduces dog population and it helps people’s society but where is animal right?
    When coming to establishment of slaughter house there is every Tom, Dick and Hypocrites, opps sorry, Harry talking about no to slaughter house. they fear that our country will become self sufficiency in food production. Think broad guys………..

  5. Predictor
    Predictor says:

    I do not know how to describe some people like Mignien and few others who seem to be excited with this project. Perhaps they are the puppets of this government or totally against Buddhism. Bhutan has remained unharmed by outside forces and also natural disasters for centuries because of our spiritual blessings and protection of our guardian deties, not because of our superior military power or economic strength. There is indeed a very strong connection between the disasters and religious practices. If one disturbs or dirties a holy lake for instance, it rains instantly and affects the community. So, killing of animals in our land will consequently cause natural disasters too. Meanwhile, what does the govt want to achieve with this non-virtuous project? Unemployment problem? No! This project will employ only more Indians as Bhutanese won’t be taking up such jobs.

  6. logical
    logical says:

    To me the caption reads: DRATSHANG PROTESTS against Government meat processing project. The four lopons of Zhung Dratshang signing the petitions display their wisdom and analytical capacity in regards to contributing for economic well being of the nation.
    The country and people cannot receive dratshang’s kindness to animals that do not even exist now as holy favour from sacred institution for progress of mankind. FARMING is legitimate way to earn livelihood. Livestock and cattle are CROPS that can be harvested as product, albeit of different discipline and order. As such, people’s representatives should proceed with the proposal that benefits even the non-performing institution in the nation like DRATSHANG itself despite the presence of misguiding representative to the government.

    The fact is that when meat processing projects pick up, more animals that do not exist now are reared up. The more there is SLAUGHTER (needs to be painless by necessity of being courteous to the benefactor) for the well being of human, the more growth takes place occupying the place of the former and the order continues as long as people enjoy the benefit. In effect, there is no real killing or loss in reference to the number of the cattle/livestock existing now and after the process may stop for reason the people accept. I agree with hodola that KILLING or KEEPING as RELIGIOUS practice in the name of some privately owned and interpreted/taught/enforced deities do not bring any benefit now or merit later. They are merely HELPLESS DEPENDENTS of the superstitious mass that do not even know whether they exist…

    As such, the government may not heed sentimental opinions of religious communities that never contributed for economic progress of human societies in any part of history. Let the dratsang take practical learning cultivating vegetables and other crops on the farms registered to the shedras/dratshangs to be able to guide the lay with application of spirituality in practical living. They should also rear poultry, piggery, dairy, fishery etc. like some of the regular Schools producing part of their needs for consumption in parts of the country. Exiting Rs. 1.37 billions on meat import is big national loss for Bhutan that I believe can meet its local demand producing higher quality within the country. Nothing that comes as HINDRANCE on the way of this noble project should be considered as FRIEND in NEED!

  7. Topaz
    Topaz says:

    To,
    All religious institutions, agencies, groups and individuals.

    Kindly contemplate on the following benefits as our economy is situation is backward due crunch:

    1. This measure will significantly reduce outflow of IND currency;
    2. Create jobs to reduce the current unemployment situation;
    3. Generate income to lower and middle level society;
    4. Contribute towards food self sufficiency;
    5. Supply and distribution of quality products within the country;
    6. Provide nutrition to mothers, athletes, sick and the rural work force;
    7. Contribute to overall economic development; and lastly
    8. Achieve Bhutan’s graduation from the LDC status by 2020 positively.

  8. Lha Gyelo
    Lha Gyelo says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH, ZHUNG DRATSHANG!!!
    Almighty Lord Buddha Said,,, the one and only to bring the SOURCE of HAPPINESS to the sentient beings are,,,, Who believes in the principles of Law and Effect and the light of COMPASSION. The Nation like Bhutan is blessed to have Zhungdratsang who oversees and upholds the Teachings of Buddha & Guru Rinpoche,,, only they can advice and appeal for the good of the Nation and its people. The concern, the care, the trust, the love and the compassion they (Zhung Dratshang) profess cannot be own by any,,,, At this current juncture the people of Bhutan applauds ZHUNG DRATSHANG for their humble appeal to the Govt,, we hope and wish that Govt will amicably accepts their petitions for the welfare of the nation and its people. We pray to Lord Buddha, Lord Guru Rinpoche , Lord Shabdrung Rinpoche, The Pelden Lhamo, The Yeshi Gonpo, the Buddha’s and Bodhisattavas and The protector deities to protect the Nation and its people from getting ruins, and be blessed with Dharma Leaders.
    Pelden Drukpa Gyelo.

  9. jigmedorje
    jigmedorje says:

    So, is this the government’s best solution to address outflow of INR? I am sure the government put in a lot of thought, as always. For example, the second-hand/dumped e-cars. I hear that e-cars have helped in bringing down $$ losses and made Thimphu’s air purer. Wait, what? No study done on this? I must be out of touch. Oh, it must ACC’s observation on the e-car dealings.

    What’s next . . . open brothels? With this government, we need to keep our expectations wide . . . think out of the box, eh? Have we thought enough within the box?

    Are we really serious about the loss of INR and hard currency?$#@!!!@#$% Then, how is it that, we continue to:

    1. Gorge LPG gas instead of substituting it with electric cooking appliances (rather than raising tariffs)?

    2. Exempt tax at the Duty Free Shop, helping people who can afford, to drink at the cost of country’s revenue?

    3. Drive Prados. Some of our elites from across the society have created a Prado-Landy driven culture. How can we forget that we cannot afford this insensitive luxury (please recall the 12.5% poverty)? Do you know how many rural schools can be made safer if one of these giant vehicles is taken off the road in Thimphu? Ask Dorji Wangchuk. I wonder if any of our Education ministers and other Prado-driving elites, past and present, visited these schools and thought . . . ‘This does not feel right.’

    The historic introduction of MPs has added to the pool of Prado elites. I wish their intellectual debates would be as rigorous as their race to land a Prado at special costs. Am I the only one or are there others who feel this way? Most MPs seem to think of themselves as a separate and a special class altogether, different from the very people who elected them! Ala wai . . .

    May common sense and wisdom prevail.

  10. depbaap
    depbaap says:

    What a proposal–to built slaughter house in the land of compassion and Buddhism. Dratshang intervention is appreciated. We simply cannot built killing field for economic gain. I wish Bhutan to adopt market economy but not market driven society. When human society is driven by market economy we lose humanity and feelings for living things because we see everything anything as money.

    Cheers

  11. Leo Drukpa
    Leo Drukpa says:

    ANSWERING to Mignien statement, …Create entrepreneurship which lead to jobs for youth is a priority & Create food self sufficient by breeding and slaughters is a good point for jobs.
    It really sound funny,tell us how it gonna solve the employment problems? Do you think that the modern educated YOUTH would work as butcher? We are unemployed and do you think, we studied for 13 to 16 years to became a butcher? we the unemployed youth are very disappointed with your statement. We can work as sweeper or beg but not butchers! We have full support to four Lopons and central monastic body. Please PM AND opposition leader kindly wave up this plan other wise in future we don’t want to see Bhutan (Last Sangrila) as Nepal ruin of earth quake.

  12. sharwarsho
    sharwarsho says:

    even if i starve to death i wont take job from such project. and even if i starve to death i wont beg for food rather i would beg for government to stop this project. stopping this project will be my only wish as Bhutanese if i were to die.
    pls pls pls…don’t come up with such solution. this only shows your weakness.

  13. joker
    joker says:

    Some leaders are religious minded while some are just the opposite. Throughout our history, our country has been blessed by great lamas and their spiritual powers. Now, are we going to move in a different direction? I never thought or even dreamt that Bhutan would adopt such an unvirtuous policy.

  14. Jameson
    Jameson says:

    Zhung Dratshang has shown its political muscles by forwarding petition that made the issue even more complicated. It has given no choice for the government but to drop the plan or face the uneasy relationship consequences. It is so sad to know how divided Bhutanese central decision can be, nobody is bold enough to pave the way in to unknown. We should not forget that Bhutanese are the highest consumer of meat in south Asia heavily dependent upon the import of inferior quality meat which surely has implication on human health and at the same time we claim to be a devout Buddhist nation. I am not supporting any sides but before taking any decision it will be wise to consider the opinion of all Bhutanese after all Bhutan belongs to Bhutanese.

  15. MIGNIEN
    MIGNIEN says:

    Quake disasters is not a problem of deities , alas !
    It is a geological problem which is well studied by expert ; Very good articles of kuensel are coming to explain us the problem . Meanwhile , religion create a spiritual mind which is necessary to support consequences of any disater .
    But the youths are well educated , in majority , and they know tectonic plate contraints are a problem of our undermovment earth . The only problem is to know when and where the quake may happen . The earth contraints do not respect prayors . Reseachers would have observation room or centers .
    But prayors help us to support the time . Thanks to the recitation of monks.
    But the protection will be , according me , out of the way of food

  16. MIGNIEN
    MIGNIEN says:

    The big problem of the country is its development. Create entrepreneurship which lead to jobs for youth is a priority .
    A second point is to balance budget . Do not forget that Bhutan live with many abroad donators . And the great majority of citizens like eat meat : animal ptotein give them more strengh . You cannot go against the will of population .
    Create food self sufficent by breeding and slaugters is a good point for jobs.
    And the organic breeding give a advantage to population health an enhance exportation . And will give opportunity of livehood for farmers !
    Does monks create jobs and participate to enhance the futur of the youths and participate to the development of the country ?
    That is the problem that monks have to solve

  17. hodola
    hodola says:

    Kudos to the Zhung Dratshang and the Venerable Lopons for submitting a petition to the Prime Minister to stop the 11 mega meat processing plants. I fully support the petition, and as Buddhist nation and peace loving country, if the government sets up a meat processing plant, god knows how many innocent animals will be slaughtered each day and numbers may run into thousands. Then very essence of being a Buddhist nation will be lost and we may face calamities like the recent earthquake in Nepal. If the postings on the facebook are anything to go by, close to 3 hundred thousand cattle heads were slaughtered just to appease a deity.

    So as concerned Buddhist Bhutanese citizen, I appeal to the authorities to do away with the setting up of these meat processing plants. This money can be diverted other developmental activities. Moreover, we can make do with vegetables, cereals which also gives us lot of protein. I would like to remind here that serving of meat during annual Lochoes have been long banned and people are happy both religiously and economically. One of the many questions that visitors ask us is that “You people are Buddhist and still eat meat” What is the logical answer? Your Excellencies.

  18. Sensitive
    Sensitive says:

    Thank you so much to the Zhung Dratshang for your noble petition. I don’t know which silly minister initiated this evil idea. We, all the people of holy land must protest against this very malicious policy. Let’s prevent before disasters strike us. Will there be mass public consultations and thorough deliberations in the parliament on this issue? Oh, Lord Buddha, kindly change the thinking of our evil-minded leaders.

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