The "cuddle chemical", or oxytocin, is being used by a large number of Indian farmers to boost the growth of pumpkins and cucumbers.
However, the Indian Ministry of Agriculture is adamant on banning the practice, as "indiscriminate use of oxytocin may cause health hazards if taken through vegetables over a period of time".
AdvertisementThe use of oxytocin in farming has become prevalent in the Uttar Pradesh and Punjab regions in northern India,
Oxytocin is known to affect social behaviour in humans, as well as facilitating birth and breastfeeding, reports New Scientist magazine.
However, it is still unclear how this animal hormone might stimulate plant development.
Plant experts at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden and Durham University, both in the UK, are sceptical of any claims that oxytocin improves plant growth and development.
However, they have speculated that it may be mimicking an unidentified plant peptide involved in growth.
"It is unlikely, but not impossible that there could be an effect in plants, but I seriously doubt that this would massively impact on crop yields in most situations," said Malcolm Hawkesford of Rothamsted Research.
The Indian Government has previously taken action against the use of oxytocin in lactating animals to increase their milk production.
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