A number of groups, including the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of the Communist Party of India-Marxist, staged a day-long hunger strike in Kerala on Saturday as a mark of protest against cultivation of Bt Brinjal in the country.
The activists were protesting the proposal to introduce mass cultivation of the genetically modified Bt Brinjal.
\"All scientists are also confused that how come there is no lab in India to ascertain facts about it (Bt Brinjal). Then how can India claim on the benefits of GM (genetically modified crops)? Germany has enough number of labs. Yet they haven\'t approved it,\" said Mullakkara Ratnakaran, Kerala\'s Agriculture Minister.
Bt brinjal is a transgenic brinjal created by inserting a gene cry1Ac from soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into brinjal.
Bt brinjal is marketed in India by MaHyCo (Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Company), and Monsanto, a US-based agricultural company.
The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), which had been instituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, had recommended field experiments of Bt brinjal.
However, the GEAC faced considerable flak by several environmental activists and NGOs such as Greenpeace, for bypassing safety and environmental concerns.
\"Everybody has come together to tell the Government of India that we don\'t want BT Brinjal. We don\'t want genetically modified crops in the country. Farmers and consumers, everybody has shown their way forward on how food and agricultures should be taken forward and we will not allow the government to go against this by promoting these multinational companies,\" said Sreedhar, Convenor of the protest hunger strike against Bt Brinjal, Thiruvananthapuram.
Further he noted that the Bt Brinjal would make the farmers as slaves.
Sreedhar also said that opting for GM crops is against the tenets of Mahatma Gandhi whose death anniversary is observed, nationwide on January 30.