Tamil Nadu: Banned drug used to increase milk output

Oxytocin can cause serious health issues to cows, consumers.

Chennai: It is a monthly affair for C. Thamarai Kannan (name changed), a 48-year-old farmer from Kizhakalpoondi village of Cuddalore district to administer the ‘energy drug’ to his cow, in order to gain extra yield of milk.

The compounder who used to work in a private veterinary hospital helps the farmer by injecting it on the animal’s shoulder. The drug, which Thamarai Kannan believes to have been increasing the energy levels of his cow, is Oxytocin, is banned by the central government in 2014, due to its perilous effects to both the animal and the milk consumer.

Anyone possessing or administering the drug can be punishable with six months rigorous imprisonment and '10,000 fine.

Oxytoxin, which is used during child labour to relax the uterus muscles, also boosts lactation. However, frequent usage of the drug decreases the lifespan of the cattle, besides causing health hazards to consumers, advise veterinarians.

“It is an energy drug which is good for the cattle. We have been injecting our cow since two years,” said an ignorant Thamarai Kannan. He was in a shock when this correspondent explained the adverse effects of the drug.

The information about the ban remains oblivious to many farmers in rural Tamil Nadu, who use the ‘sorrapu oosi’ when the calf dies. Admitting it, a farmer from Adigathur in Tiruvallur district said, “The calf has died. How else can we get the milk? After injecting the drug, the animal gets the stimuli to lactate.”

In a reply to the Right to Information petition filed by a research scholar and activist, R. Natarajan, the animal husbandry department submitted about the lack of awareness camps on the dangers of oxytocin, which is a schedule-H drug. “There are no bill boards outside the veterinary hospitals and police stations about the ban. Nor did they advertise in vernacular media, which would reach rural sections. If people were sensitized, a layman would be able to complain when witnessed the usage of the drug,” Natarajan told DC.

It is a fact that many cattle rearers maintain a nexus with the medical shops to purchase the drug, which otherwise would not be given without a medical prescription. A farmer from Mudichur admitted to this paper that he injects the drug an hour before milking his cow every day. “I get 12 litres of milk if I inject the animal, rather than the usual of ten litres,” he said.

However, the RTI petition by the activist has been a start to the change, as the animal husbandry department has requested the state government to sanction the funds to the tune of Rs 12.22 lakh, in order to take up various awareness campaigns. The proposal includes a short film on the misuse of oxytocin, advertisement in Tamil Papers and pamphlet distribution.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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