Oxytocin is a hormone secreted and stored by the posterior pituitary gland which causes the womb to contract. An octapeptide, one of the major hormones made in the magnocellular hypothalamic neurones and stored in the posterior lobe of the pituitary, it has uterine-contracting and milk-ejecting actions. It contributes to the second stage of labour. Natural oxytocin causes milk to be ejected from the breasts during lactation, the amount of oxytocin produced naturally, however, does not stimulate labour.
In order to duplicate the hormone and create an artificial drug Oxytocin (Syntocinon) was developed by Vincent du Vigneaud. It was first synthesised in 1953.
When synthetic oxytocin or Oxytocin (Syntocinon) is infused in large amounts, it causes the smooth muscle in the wall of the uterus to contract and initiates the process of labour. Smooth-muscle cells in the uterus contain proteins that bind specifically to oxytocin; the number of these oxytocin receptors increase during late pregnancy.
Oxytocin (Syntocinon) is a very potent artifical hormone and its use in labour is intended to mimic the natural hormone. It is administered intramuscularly or by intravenous infusion to induce active labour, increase the force of contractions in labour, contract uterine muscles after delivery of the placenta, control postpartum haemorrhage and stimulate milk ejection.
The manufacturers of this drug are emphatic in their advice that this hormone is to be used only in emergencies and that it should only be administered by a qualified gynaecologist. Any error in the administration of the drug can lead to the rupture of the uterus forever because high titration can cause hyper tonus (excessive contraction of the womb), and in rare cases, rupture of the womb. Oxytocin predisposes the newborn baby to jaundice. Oxytocin also reduces the supply of oxygen to the baby's brain.
Your milkman uses the very same oxytocin injection twice a day to extract milk from his animals. This is a locally made cheap product known as veterinary oxytocin. (Oxytocin for humans is priced at Rs. 15 per ampule while veterinary oxytocin is priced at Rs. 0.50 per ampule).
Greedy dairymen inject cattle with veterinary Oxytocin in the mistaken belief that this produces more milk when all it does is make the milk come faster. It is used to force the cow to give milk even after severe beatings and stress. However it destroys the cow's reproductive system and she goes dry in just 3 years. She is then abandoned. Cows are kept permanently pregnant so that they continue to lactate- the dairymen do not want the calf, only the milk so these calves too are either killed or abandoned.
Any mother would know the kind of pain experienced during labour. The cow experiences the same pain twice a day.
A substantial part of the oxytocin injected into the cow seeps into the milk. It is very harmful for humans who unwittingly are made to consume an artificially created hormone. Humans face all the harmful effects of this drug. Children are most susceptible to its effects and it is known to have caused imbalanced hearing and weak eyesight. Common symptoms are exhaustion and loss of energy. Expecting mothers should avoid milk that may has been adulterated with oxytocin because:
- Oxytocin increases the risk of post-partum haemorrhage
- Individual women may be hypersensitive to oxytocin and it can inhibit breastfeeding.
- Oxytocin seriously affects the growth of hormones especially in females because of which minor girls attain early puberty.
Oxytocin is also found in phenomenal proportions in beef and other meat. Over 75% of all beef are known to have high and dangerous oxytocin content.
The Government of India has acknowledged the negative effects of oxytocin and has declared it as a scheduled substance. It is illegal under the Food and Drug
Adulteration Prevention Act to give these injections without the advice of a gynaecologist. It is certainly illegal for animals.
Even the supporters of this drug are very clear regarding one fact, oxytocin is a hormone and to induce even one dose of a hormone into the human body is dangerous.
Oxytocin is a schedule H-drug that means that it cannot be bought or sold without a prescription. This makes its use by dairies illegal. It is specifically banned under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 section 12 of and the Foods and Drug Adulteration Prevention Act, 1960. Therefore, the laws already exist. What is required now is efiective local enforcement.
But it is the lack of enforcement which is responsible for its widespread use. Most reports have shown the absolute failure of enforcement authorities to prevent the drug from being freely available and used.
It is a fact that almost every dairy and milkman in India uses the oxytocin injection on his cow. Oxytocin can be procured for as little as 25 paise from local shops and chemists. Some states that have a significant role in its illegal production and distribution are Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
The Department of the Drug Controller, Delhi, claims it has no information of any manufacturing unit of oxytocin operating in the city. However Rohtak is said to be the prime area of illegal manufacture of oxytocin coming into Delhi. Following press reports and articles on the misuse of oxytocin by dairymen, the Drug Control department claims to have wiped out major distribution networks over the last one year. However, the content of our milk tells a different story.
Veterinary Oxytocin is not only available at retail outlets; it can be purchased in wholesale in markets of Bhogal, Azadpur Mandi, Chandni Chowk and Chandrawal amongst others. It is true however, that following media awareness of this issue, the dealers are more guarded and sell only to known customers or after detailed enquires.
Another problem is the eagerness of the animal husbandry department to promote the use of oxytocin injections. From their point of view oxytocin would lead to quicker milking of underfed cows as well as increase the production of meat from abandoned calves. Although the department now has issued directives stating that no one should use oxytocin without the necessary prescription, the directive does not in any way state that use of oxytocin for milking is illegal and harmful. As a matter of fact, the animal husbandary department is not quite convinced of the harmful effects of oxytocin. They have stated that nothing conclusive has been established as yet on this issue.
When two government departments are working at cross-purposes, it is hard to hope for an early solution anytime soon. The situation is similar, if not worse all over India and Delhi is simply a reflection of the rest of the country.
It is difficult to get the government to take the initiative. The best way to combat this problem is to sensitise the public. Once people are aware and demand action against its use, the authorities will be forced to act and take notice.
So your society must start directing your work towards dairymen and chemists. There are several ways you or your group can help to do this:
- Go to all the dairies and the chemists in your area with a copy of the laws (Section 12 of the PCA, 1960) as well as the notification declaring oxytocin a prescription drug. Inform them of the consequences of their continued use and that you will not hesitate to report them to the police. Should the charge be substantiated, the proprietor shall be liable to lose his license as a pharmacist and shopkeeper in addition to criminal charges with punishment of up to 5 years in prison. Most of these laws shall also apply to the milkman using the drug.
- Inform the police stations in the area of the problem and enlist their support. Show them the relevant Acts and sections and urge them to lodge a FIR. It can be lodged under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, Food and Consumable Substances Adulteration Act, and the Drug Control Laws. As oxytocin leads to abandonment of calves or transporting them to slaughter the offenders can also be booked under the Prevention of Cow Slaughter Acts. Most are cognizable offences and arrests can follow immediately after filing of the FIR.
- Contact the local media and ask them to take the issue up as a campaign by featuring regular articles on the dangers of oxytocin to human health. Furnish them with this information based on your research. Give them photographs of this drug being sold and administered. Request them to cover your campaign against oxytocin.
- You can also print and distribute flyers on the subject explaining the relationship of what is injected into the cow's body and the milk that she produces. You should address women's groups and schools. Once consumers realise the danger that oxytocin poses to their own health, they will join the movement to stop its use in our dairies.
- Meet the Municipal Commissioner in this regard and see what help he can provide. Maybe you can get a directive from him to all chemist stores warning them against selling oxytocin without a proper prescription.
- It is the responsibility of the Drug Controller to enforce these laws. You must contact the area Drug Controller with details and names of all chemists and dairies selling and administering oxytocin. You may insist on being present during the raids.
- If the drug inspector is ineffective, tackle the problem from the other end - raid dairies and if you find evidence like needles and syringes file an FIR against them with the police. Send the name and address of the drug inspector who is not performing his job to his superiors so that action will be taken. - Oraganise raiding teams that will visit dairies on a regular basis. Look for evidence such as used syringes and discarded vials. Ask locals from where they get their milk and whether they have seen milkmen using injections. Use this as evidence to file a FIR in the closest police station. - Get a vet to accompany you on your visit to the dairies to explain to milkmen the damage they cause to the cow by using oxytocin and how she will go dry in just 3 years, which will cause enormous loss to them. Also make sure that they understand that oxytocin does not cause the production of more milk but only makes it rush out faster. The only way to increase the milk yield is to feed and rest the cow properly. - Similarly, find a sympathetic/co-operative police officer that will accompany your group to the chemists in the area and inform them that all sale of oxytocin is forbidden without a doctor's prescription. Tell them that oxytocin has been declared a schedule H drug vide notificaiton by GSR 282 (E) dated 16.7.1996 w.e.f. 16.7.19196 Warn them that any violation will be prosecuted by your organisation.
File complaints against any chemist store that is selling oxytocin without prescription with the Food & Drug Department.
Q.1 How do you know if dairymen or milkmen are using the drug?
Ans. You can visit the cowsheds and examine the cows there. If oxytocin is being used, you will find marks and bruises caused by the needles all over the body of the cow. Also look around to see if you can spot any needles or injections lying about. They can be seized and used as evidence.
Q.2 How to enquire about the drug and its usage?
Ans. Never make an issue about it. First just ask your milkman about oxytocin in a most casual manner so that he is more forthcoming. Once you find out, ask him where it can be procured easily. A lot depends on the co-operatation of the milkman. Once you locate the retail shop he procures it from; you may visit it yourself and buy some articles from him to gain confidence. It is onlY the retailer who can identify the distributor and then finally the manufacturer.
Q.3 When you discover vital information, who do you contact and where?
Ans. You must contact the drug enforcement department known as the Office of the Drug Controller. Every urban city has a Drug Controller who works under the Municipal Commissioner. He has a large staff of Inspectors and Doctors who are equipped to tackle drug problem. In rural areas or small townships there is at least one drug controller for every district. He functions under the supervision of the District Magistrate. The contact addresses of the drug controller's office are easily available in the local municipal corporation or the District Magistrate's office. You could ask to talk directly to the Drug Controller or the Deputy Drug Controller.
You may also call People for Animals at A-4, Maharani Bagh, New Delhi-110 065 Ph : 6840402 Fax : 6823144
Q.4 How to identify this drug?
Ans. This particular oxytocin is called the veterinary oxytocin. It is available in a small red ampule barely an inch long. When raiding or causing raids to be made, concentrate on the Veterinary Oxytocin only. Dairymen cannot use the normal oxytocin, as it is far too expensive.
Q.5 What trends have the use of oxytocin brought about?
Ans. The large-scale use of oxytocin has far reaching consequences, which have begun to show themselves gradually. It is a fact that most dairymen kill the calves or send them for slaughter to save their milk. This has substantially increased the number of calves to be slaughtered. Cow slaughter is on offence and a crime under the Prevention of Cow slaughter Act. The number of criminals and organised crime is on the rise. Even common people such as dairymen and chemists are now a part of this. Oxytocin has singly increased criminal trade in many other sectors as well. Because of it there is a boom in the illegal leather and beef markets. The demand for oxytocin has given birth to hundreds of illegal and unlicensed backyard manufactures who have no idea of the drug that they are making.
It is an established fact that no cow get pregnant after giving birth to three calves in a row if she is being given oxytocin all the time. Once it cannot conceive she is no longer of any use to the dairymen and the animal is either deserted or sent for slaughter. This in turn has led to the overflow of Gaushalas and cattle are roaming the streets: one main reason for the increasing traffic problems in metropolitan cities.
Due to beef eating and the rising levels of oxytocin in milk, pregnant mothers are being affected. Their children are born with deformities and low resistance levels; a mother's resistance levels are bound to have an adverse affect on the child.
Beef is known to be a carrier for all kinds of diseases, for people who eat beef permeated with oxytocin, increased hormonal levels are inevitable.
Therefore it is not simply a question of a dose or injection. It affects everybody who drinks milk or eats milk products. Any infection or disease in the contaminated milk shall spread like wildfire because of chemicals like oxytocin. It is important to deal with the situation while we can act rather than waiting for a serious desaster before we do.
Q.6 What to do if the drug controller's office takes no action?
Ans. The departments of Drug Control as well as Animal Husbandry come under the Municipal Commissioner. Make it a point to keep him informed of all the complaints that you make.
You can lodge a complaint with the Vigilance Cell along with details and the persons who are not performing their duties. Every state has a Vigilance Department headed by a senior officer.
You can also write to the Director Public Grievances in the Secretariat Building in the capital city of every state. If any official approaches you or asks for a bribe you must call the Anti Corruption Bureau based usually in the state capital and inform them.
Overall control of this department lies with the Ministry of Health in the state government. This is headed by the Health Minister and followed by the Health Secretary of the State. You may approach them for help.
In case the relief given to you by any of the above officials does not satisfy you, you may file a writ petition in the Session's Court or a Public Interest Litigation with the help of a lawyer.
It is likely that you will face problems at various ends and often that can be most discouraging. However, it is important to keep up your efforts and pursue the matter doggedly. It helps if you have a group of like-minded people taking up the issue together. A group always helps in getting attention of the authorities as well as keeping the morale high. It is a good idea to get in touch with other societies and groups if you feel the need of some support. The idea is never to give up as somewhere along the line you are bound to find someone sympathetic and that is enough to achieve your objective.