Plump pumpkins and potatoes, bright green bitter gourds and cucumbers, and other vegetables that seem to make your basket swell goodness may appear to be the best way to good health – but look more closely – these vegetables may be oversized and fresh-looking for long because they have been injected with hormones such as oxytocin.

Though the Union Health Ministry has banned the sale of oxytocin through pharmacies to prevent it being misused by farmers in both agriculture and dairy produce, the hormone continues to be indiscriminately used.

The Bihar Government has appealed to farmers not to inject their produce with oxytocin as sustained use may may cause hormonal imbalance in people and harm their reproductive systems.

“Most of the fertilizers are expensive. So we use hormone injections which are available at cheaper rates. It helps the veggies to swell up quickly,” said Santosh Prasad, a Digha farmer. Deputy director, horticulture, Nitesh Kumar Rai said oxytocin, called ‘cocin’, ‘paani’ or ‘dawai’ in local parlance, was easily available at pharmacies, even in rural areas.

Apart from oxytocin, chemicals such as copper sulfate and calcium carbide are also used indiscriminately respectively to enhance the colour of the vegetables and ripen them artificially. Both are known to have adverse effects on human health.


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