Use of the controversial oxytocin injection to milk cattle may have been opposed by doctors, citing risks in consuming such milk, but veterinary specialists consider these findings as "illogical and baseless".
According to a note over the use of oxytocin prepared by Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) here that is being taught in the basic course to vets, oxytocin is a "routine hormone" having a life of only two minutes that harms the human body only if taken orally.
Dr Parkash Singh Brar, head of the gynaecology department, GADVASU, said, "Oxytocin is responsible only for milk let-down. When the buffalo is milked, there is a natural release of minute quantities of the hormone in milk for a few minutes only."
In rural areas and big milk dairies, especially those situated around large cities, the use of oxytocin is common to milk the cattle fast, especially those which take time in milking and give less milk. After the injection is given, it becomes easy to milk the buffaloes. The injections are available in the market at a cheap price.
Experts feel oxytocin has a life of about two minutes in blood. Though the university clarified that it did not advocate the use of oxytocin to milk animals, in case these suffered from inherent disturbed milk ejection, small amounts of oxytocin could be used to induce milk let-down.
"Those who believe that oxytocin may escape the action of metabolizing enzymes and appear in milk in traces should realise that in such a case, all breast-fed infants must be constantly exposed to these traces over prolonged periods without facing any health hazards. The same also holds good for dairy animals as well," the GADVASU note states.
"The hormone will be digested like other proteins and peptides by the action of gut enzymes and gastric acids and cannot be absorbed as such from the intestines. Therefore, considering all the above factors it seems highly unlikely that the milk produced by oxytocin-treated buffaloes will be harmful to the consumer," the gynaecology department head said.
The university, however, suggested that the indiscriminate use of oxytocin in milch animals needed to be controlled through a regulatory mechanism as well as educational measures.