Is there a Buddhist opinion about pesticides?

The Venerable Prayudh Payutto is one of the most prominent Buddhist thinkers in Thailand. He has written many books and received the UNESCO International Prize for Peace Education. More than ten years ago, he recognised the dangers of chemicals used in food production.

“Within the immediacy of our everyday lives, we are threatened by dangers. We can’t be sure whether our food has been soaked in chemicals or not. Sometimes plants and animals, our food supply, are treated with hormones to boost their growth. Pigs are given special additives to make their meat turn a pretty red colour. Poisonous substances are sometimes used in foods as preservatives, flavour enhancers or dyes, not to mention the uncontrolled use of pesticides. Some of the people who sell these foods wouldn’t dare eat them themselves!”

Buddha statue

The Venerable Payutto has explained that problems like this occur because people have separated technology from ethics. Technology can be used to improve the quality of life and protect the environment, but this doesn’t happen if people suffer from greed, hatred and delusion. When people produce or consume more than they need (lobha), and when they do this by trying to conquer nature instead of working with it (dosa), harmful consequences are inevitable. Those consequences are not always recognised, because people are paying more attention to the short-term benefits of their actions than to the longer-term dangers (moha).

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