Environmentalists have stepped up their protest against Bt Brinjal in the country even as a month-long public hearing on the safety of the genetically modified vegetable kicks off from tomorrow.

“Bt Brinjal should not be introduced in our farms and our kitchens without a proper reassessment, especially in the context of false assumptions made to present it as the only alternative available ignoring the proven agro-ecological approach to pest control,” activist Vandana Shiva said.

Talking to reporters here, she said the genetic contamination risks also need reassessment given the scientific unsoundness on cross-pollination data.

“There is no GM liability framework. We demand moratorium on its commercial approval,” she said.

The activist said that members of her organisation Navdanya as well many farmers will oppose entry of Bt Brinjal at the public consultations being held in seven places across the country, the first being in Kolkata on Wednesday.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh will personally attend the hearings where scientists, agriculturists, NGOs and environmentalists will present their views on the safety of the GM food item.

The public consultations are being held in the wake of widespread opposition against the Genetically Engineering Approval Committee’s (GEAC) recommendations last year to allow commercial release of the Bt Brinjal in the open market.

GM food undergoes genetic modification by gene transfer making it pest-resistant.