Banned drug injected into cattle is poisoning milk in India

A two-month-long investigation by an Indian newspaper has exposed how cattle are injected with a hormone called oxytocin every day, in violation of a government ban. While the drug forces the cattle to expel a few extra litres of milk, drinking it may severely harm young children

If you’re a stickler for dietary discipline and insist on that warm glass of milk every morning, here’s news that could make you look at the glass half empty. Prolonged investigations conducted by MiD-DAY have revealed that a banned drug called oxytocin is being administered to buffalos in many tabelas across the city. Oxytocin, while it helps cattle produce more milk, has severely harmful effects on not just the health of the animals it is injected into, but humans who consume milk that comes from them.

Doctors have confirmed that the drug decreases the reproductive ability of cows over time, eventually making them barren. It also reduces the lifespan of cattle. Studies have linked the consumption of milk contaminated with oxytocin to the early onset of puberty in children, which is on an alarming rise these days. Despite a ban on artificially injecting the hormone into cattle, this drug is being supplied secretly to different tabelas, as we discovered in the course of our two-month-long investigations.

Dr V L Deopurkar, director of research, Veterinary University, Nagpur explained, “Oxytocin or Pitocin is an injection used on pregnant women to induce labour. Commercial tabelas are using oxytocin injections almost twice a day on cattle. Upon injecting the drug, the milk, which is otherwise stored in the udder of the cattle for its calves, is also released, giving a few additional litres of milk.”