What is Oxytocin ?
Oxytocin is a hormone that is made in the hypothalamus. It is transported to, and secreted by, the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain. It acts both as a hormone and as a brain neurotransmitter. It is also called as love hormone or hug hormone. Oxytocin drug, a synthetic version of a human hormone.
Why it is banned?
Oxytocin stimulates lactation in cattle, dairy farmers inject the drug indiscriminately to increase milk production. This has spawned several unlicensed facilities that manufacture the drug for veterinary use. One of the concerns was that oxytocin leads to infertility in dairy animals, and some studies show this to be true. It has also been linked to mastitis, a painful inflammation of the udder. Milk consumers worry about exposure to it through dairy products. So heavily are these drugs used that they are causing deadly bacteria to become resistant to them.
Why is this ban, a bane for women?
Oxytocin plays an important role in child birth and lactating. Is a life-saver for women. Doctors use it to induce labour in pregnant women and to stem postpartum bleeding.
So critical is its role in maternal health that the World Health Organization recommends it as the drug of choice in postpartum haemorrhage.
45,000 of Indian women die due to causes related to childbirth each year.
In much of rural India, more people still die due to a lack of antibiotics than due to antibiotic-resistance.
Why the Ban is not needed?
In 2015, the National Dairy Research Institute quoted that there was no evidence that oxytocin led to infertility.
A 2014 study by researchers at the National Institute of Nutrition concluded that oxytocin content in buffalo milk did not alter with injections.
What can be done ?
Eventhough the ill-effects of oxytocin are real, a ban is not the answer. Monopolising production will remove the low-price options from the market. Such a situation may benefit cattle, but will put the lives of many women at risk.
The right approach would have been to strengthen regulation, and crack down on illegal production.