To protest against the introduction of Bt brinjal in Indian markets, over 50 people went on fast at Jantar Mantar here on Saturday.

Observing the “national day of fast” on Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary, the protesters said even the ideals of Father of the Nation were opposed to Bt brinjal. As part of a nationwide protest, similar fasts were also organised in Kerala, Bihar, Karnataka, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Uttarkhand and West Bengal.

“Genetically modified (GM) crops such as Bt brinjal are not tested properly and they can trigger adverse effects on the human body,” said Selva, a protester.

“We do not need GM crops in India. With regard to brinjal, there is already a wide variety being cultivated through other means in the country. Germany, Switzerland and some other European countries have placed a moratorium on the production of GM food products,” he added.

Protesters alleged that GM crops could be life threatening, cripple the economy and hamper India’s national biodiversity as well as self-reliance.

A website which has been set up to protest against the introduction of Bt brinjal states that the fast was held to prevent multinational seed companies from taking control of the indigenous seed system through patented GM crops like Bt brinjal and also to stop the insertion of genetic material which reportedly makes the brinjal plant produce Bt toxin.

GM products would also adversely affect the environment and bio-safety, the website claims, adding that clearance was given to Bt brinjal based on inadequate tests, overlooking the death of animals grazing in Bt cotton fields and ignoring data that indicated harmful effects of Bt food on the liver and kidney.

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