With a vision to be a leader in the dairy field the Indian Government started the White Flood programme in 1970. The success of Government operations depended mainly on replacing some of the best native desi cows with the hybrid varieties of European countries using massive insemination programme under official tutelage.
But recent research in India has found that the milk of the hybrid cow in India is not only harmful for health but also reduces immunity. Indiaopines brings to its readers an exclusive report on Milk and the impact of the isolated policy that has led to a situation where the desi cows are on the verge of extinction.
The White Revolution
“Doodh Doodh Doodh Doodh… wonderful doodh.” Who can forget this rhyming jingles of 1999 played on the national television that defined milk as an elixir. But the milk served to Indian consumers is “no more wonderful for health”. According to a survey conducted by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in 2011, 68.4 of percent milk served throughout the country is adulterated.
However, the on-going debate on A1 and A2 milk in foreign countries led Indian researchers to conduct a fresh research about the quality of milk. The Karnal based dairy body took up the task to complete the research.
The National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) conducted a research on animals in February this year to check the claims made by researchers in New Zealand, Australia and other European countries who said the A1 milk variety is unsafe for human consumption.
New Zealand researchers claimed that A1 milk contains beta-caesin which is harmful for human beings and leads to diseases like diabetes, cancer and a weakening of the immune system. The results of the NDRI research also indicated that A1 milk that is served to infants and old age people damages the immune system. AK Srivastava, Director, NDRI, Karnal, tells Indiaopines, “In India, the experiment conducted six months ago on animals indicated that A1 milk caused immunity problems. But as of now we have to wait further for a credible source.”
The revelation of the FSSAI and NDRI research reports have left Indian milk consumers clueless. The biggest question that arises in India is whether there is any law that strictly deals with the quality of food products. Did the policy formulated by the Government to get more yield from cows prove holistic or in the other words did the policy of insemination of native desi cow breeds prove a disaster for India?
What is A1 and A2 milk?
Both A1 and A2 varieties of milk are the product of two genetically different cow breeds. The main proteins available in this milk are whey and casein. Earlier all cows used to be A2 until a naturally occurring genetic mutation in European breeds changed the genetics of milk producing cow herds. And today most of the milk that we consume comes from the A1 variety.
Research in New Zealand on the A1 and A2 breeds showed that casein is most abundant overall, and the genetic variations of the A1 and A2 refer to the beta-casein. Beta-caseins can have a helpful effect on the body. But drinking A1 milk may not be so helpful.
When we drink the milk of an A1 cow, the body breaks it down to produce high levels of a molecule that is not a healthy sign. This is a bioactive opioid peptide and morphine-related compound called beta casomorphin-7 (BCM7). While A2 milk also causes some of this morphine molecule to be produced, it is negligible ascompared to A1 milk. BCM7 is a very active molecule in our body.
Once in our blood stream, this creates opioid oxidize cholesterol at a high rate, which may be one reason for its link to heart disease. Animal studies have singled out BCM7 since it creates inflammatory reactions in the small intestines. It also changes the hormonal function, as well as affects the nervous and immune system. BCM7 will cause brain fog, poor thinking, and problems with sleep.
These neurologic issues may also be a factor in the concerns with schizophrenia and autism. The ischemic heart disease is the most common cause of death in the majority of countries. A study New Zealand study looking at 20 affluent countries clearly shows higher rates of death from a type of heart disease called ischemic heart disease in A1 milk drinkers, while the A2 variety shows lower cardiovascular problems and type-I diabetes.
Earlier there were no human trial results to check the claims of A1 and A2 milk. But on August 11, 2014 the Curtin University of Australia published a report in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Associate Professor Sebely Pal of the School of Public Health. The report found that humans on an A2 milk diet had less bloating abdominal pain and firmer stools since they stayed off the A1 beta casein. The tests were carried out on 41 persons for eight weeks.
Which Milk we drink in India
By contrast India has A2 cows which are mainly the native desi breeds. India has 37 pure cattle breeds. They are Shahiwal, Gir, Red Sindhi, Tharpakar, Rathi, Kankrej, Ongole and Harianato name a few. The milk delivered by all the desi cows was of the A2 variety. However, breeds were developed after the Government programme, White Flood, was launched during 1970 to gain dairy prowess. India went on to hybrid its native desi cows with the European species of Jerseysand Holstein Friesian which delivered A1 milk.
The practice of developing a new breed indiscriminately with every passing decade triggered a two-pronged crisis. First, the developing of a new breed that destructed the indigenous cow and second the new exotic breeds did not adapt themselves to the Indian conditions. And the result, according to animal experts, was that within 10 years all the Indian desi breeds of cow disappeared.
Brij Kishore Yadav, former Technical Officer at the NDRI, Karnal, who inseminated more than One lakh cows during his tenure, tells Indiaopines,
“India, today is standing at the precipice of a disaster. It seems the Government earlier ignored the importance of desi cows. The Government actually lacked foresight.If crossbreeding had been done of less milk yielding Indian cows with the breeds of the European countries yielding more milk had been done it would have helped us. But what we did here was completely unplanned. We inseminated all the high yielding cows as well as less milk yielding ones in a similar way.Today India despite the fact that it is the world’s largest milk producer is facing the threat of losing its dairy prowess.”
Yadav further says, “India produces 122 million tonnes of milk annually though it has the highest number of cattle in the world i.e. about 200 millions. Thus the average milk yield per animal in India is only 3.23 kilograms as compared to the global average of 6.68 kilograms.”
NDRI Director Srivastava says, “India promoted the milk production programme. At that point of time India had gone for the crossbreed programme as the Government believed that through this India could fast-generate more milk than through the natural selection process via indigenous programmes. And it is the law of nature that if we have to achieve a goal many things need to be changed. And to achieve the goal of maximum dairy output Indian farmers were asked to do the same which proved successful. But now India needs to safeguard its native desi breed cows.”
WRIT PETITION IN SC
Considering the horrible condition of desi cows and the kind of milk served in the Indian market Swami Achutyanand Tirth filed a civil writ petition in the Supreme Court of India in 2012 basing his case on FSSAI survey report. The apex court issued notice to the Union of India and five States in the month of March this year to make necessary amendments in the Food Safety Act.
Anurag Tomer, counsel for Swami Achutyanand, tells Indiaopines, “The civil writ petition said that 80 percent of milk provided to consumers in India was adulterated and not safe for human consumption. The petitioner also gave the court a copy of the FSSAI survey report claiming that 68.4 percent of milk in the Indian market was adulterated with the synthetic and detergent materials which were hazardous for health.The Bench of Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Justice Vikramjit Sen took the matter seriously and then hearing of the case began in the month of December 2013.”
Anurag further says, “In the meantime we pointed out to the court that the punishment awarded in India for food adulteration is insufficient. So the apex court in December issued a notice to the Union of India and all the States asking them to bring a suitable amendment in Section 276 of the Indian Penal Code and also suggested the Government to increase the provision of punishment from six months to a life term.”
During the hearing of the case the apex court was also informed about the Allahabad High Court Judgment on where in a similar case the court stated that since the Food Safety Standard Act could take care of all the matters related to food adulteration. Section 276 of the IPC cannot be applied in this case. Tomer tells Indiaopines,
“After citing the example to the SC we suggested the Bench that since the Central Government has ample power of legislation it could clarify this matter by making suitable amendments in the Food Act. As there was a judgment earlier by another court it could be only removed by legislation. And at the same time a single provision can be brought in the Food Safety Act itself. The bench liked our view and directed the Union of India to make necessary amendments.”
After the writ petition a counter affidavit was filed by the Director of the Food Safety Authority on behalf of the Union of India in the SC on March 10, 2014 admitting that in the year 2011 a survey was conducted nationwide by the FSSAI. The survey said that 68.4 per cent of milk which was collected from various States was found adulterated with detergents.
The deviations were found highest on account of Fat and SNF content in 574 samples (46.8%) of the total non-conformity, including 147 samples with detergents and two samples with neutrilizers, respectively. Detergent was also found in 103 samples (8.4%). The second highest parameter of non-conformity was the skim milk powder (SMP) in 548 samples (44.69%) including glucose in 477 samples. Glucose is added in milk to probably enhance SNF.
Mohan Singh Ahluwalia, President of Gwala Gaddi, an organization fighting to save native desibreed cows across the country and provide pure milk to the consumers with more than seven lakh twenty thousand members across the country and also the petitioner along with Swami Achutyanand, tells Indiaopines,
“People are losing their faith in milk now. The present condition is very serious as a single person is making a brand of itself and we are against it. Our movement mainly deals with the interests of consumers and we are demanding that pure milk be served to people.” Ahluwalia further says, “Currently there is no law which deals with the standard of milk as in the government guideline it is not clear how to achieve standards whether in a natural way or in an artificial way. Thus all the companies and dairies across the country are doing a black business of impure milk and making huge profits. And Government of India is the part of this conspiracy with its millions of consumers.”
In a similar case the Jammu and Kashmir High Court hearing to a Public Interest Litigation directed the dairy companies marketing their milk to inform general public whether the milk is a pure cow milk or a processed one. Dr Shakat Khan tells Indiaopines, “The owners of Khyber Milk Farms—do not have a diary farm and that milk and milk products it markets are processed in the processing unit run by the company.”
During the trial Advocate Z A Shah, who represented Khyber Agro Milk Farms in the court said that his client imported Buffalo milk from outside, mixes it with cow’s milk, produced locally from the farmers in some areas of Pulwama district and makes the milk homogenous in its milk plants, to maintain ratio of fats and solid non-fats (SNF) components.
He also said that when milk production in the area is more than the milk marketed, the excess milk is converted into milk powder and used in a season with less production to maintain ratio between production and demand. Shakat Khan says, “Jammu and Kashmir High Court also fined the Khyber and Kamal brand. However the Khyber and Kamal got the stay from the Supreme Court.”
Citing a verdict of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Ahluwalia says, “Today milk and dairy companies are making huge profits as they are collecting 100 litres of milk but developing it into 400 litres. On their milk packets the nutritional value is nowhere mentioned.”
The NDRI Director says, “There is no law in India to differentiate the varieties of milk. What is permissible in our country is to mention mix milk. Also there is no way to find out the type of milk. The type of milk can only be presumed on the basis of its acquired sources.”
Rajendra Tamboli, Director, SRT Agro Science Pvt Ltd, a company based in Raipur, Chhattisgarh has developed a dairy farm with more than 400 Gir breed cows farm and is Asia’s biggest organic fertilizer provider, tells Indiaopines, “Earlier the milk used to be a driving force for the agro-economy but today it seems to have lost its value. The policy of hybriding native cows has undervalued the robustness of desi cows. For the last few years we have been working to save the native desi breed cows. And today we are also offering sweets made from A2 milk.”
Many new firms are coming up in India to promote A2 milk and their products. Three organizations Gwala Gaddi, Return to Roots Foodtech Pvt Ltd and Good Food are teaming up to provide all the sweets made from the milk of desi cow under the online brand www.a2india.com and www.a2milksweets.com.
Amul’s chief architect- Verghese Kurien- in now no more around us to think and spearhead for a new policy to save the desi cows in India. But the Government now need to come up with a new policy to save its native desi cow gene pool before it has its disastrous consequences in a couple of decade time.
However, it is unfortunate that in India every problem is never dealt seriously. And if there were a real holistic national policy on dairy then problems like the danger of extinction of the desi breed would not have happened and the consumers would have been getting the pure milk.
By: Anand Singh
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