Agri Business

Study reveals some unpalatable truths behind your glass of milk

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on November 21, 2019 Published on October 26, 2017

Picture-perfect images of happy cows on green pastures belie the cruelty inflicted on the animal in an increasingly space-deprived dairy industry, alleges the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), calling for stricter norms on the dairy industry in the interest of public health and family welfare.

In its report “CATTLE-OGUE”, an investigation of 451 milk producing centres across 10 milk producing states, FIAPO says that cows raised in these dairies were closely confined, leaving them unable to nurse their calves, for instance; they were treated like milk-producing machines, genetically manipulated and pumped with antibiotics and hormones in order to produce more milk.

And it’s not just the animal that suffers in such cases, but also people who end up drinking the milk from these sick and depressed animals, says FIAPO director Arpan Sharma. In fact, he adds, members of the medical fraternity have pointed out how milk from distressed animals could increase the chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other ailments.

At the Central and state levels, the Government needs to bring in laws to regulate, especially, the urban dairies, Sharma told BusinessLine. The FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) regulates milk processing, but when milk is sourced from badly-run dairies the raw material or input ingredient is affected, he points out. In cities, most of the milk, sweets, paneer, etc, is got from milk sourced from badly run dairies on the periphery of the city, he says.

“The Centre, too, needs to amend the Registration of Cattle Premises Rules, 1978, to introduce conditions for the holding of cattle in commercial dairies,” he says, adding that they have approached different authorities on this.

Bringing in better and regulated conditions will also help small farmers in the business by weeding out fly-by-night, unscrupulous operators who masquerade as dairy farmers, he added.

Not so white

The FIAPO report found in the dairies it investigated that urban dairy animals get little access to soft ground in 78 per cent of the dairies. “They spend their lives in cramped, poorly ventilated and dark enclosures in more than one quarter of the dairies, where injuries from slipping in their own excreta are a common occurrence, 64.1 per cent dairies had ill, injured and distressed cattle. Poor veterinary care and illegal use of drugs and hormones such as oxytocin to increase the milk let-down are prevalent. Thus, an evident delinking of humane treatment of cattle as sentient beings is being noticed as a result of the rising demand for milk and milk products,” the report said.

Further, the report points out, “cattle are separated from calves (male calves die within the first week in 25 per cent of dairies), receive little to no veterinary care and are injected with drugs procured illegally to induce sudden milk let-down in almost 50 per cent of the dairies. Unproductive cattle are sold to economically weaker farmers for their personal use or the slaughterhouses by 62.9 per cent dairies – both at low prices to earn meagre sums of money from the final disposition.”

The investigation also reveals the system of the khalbaccha, an effigy made by stuffing a dead calf with hay. “Because of strong maternal bonds, the mother often stops lactating if the calf has died. Hence a khalbaccha is routinely used to mimic the presence of a calf and continue milking,” it said, calling for an urgent and strict implementation of existing laws of animal welfare and urban governance.



Info-box:

# The investigation was undertaken in: NCT Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, UP, MP, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Telangana and Tamil Nadu.

# Letters seeking action have been sent to State and Central authorities and the Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI).

# FIAPO has 80 members and 200 supporter organisations.

jyothi.datta@thehindu.co.in

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Published on October 26, 2017
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