The Mararikulam Brinjal Festival, a coastal village’s attempt to protect its popular, indigenous and organic variety of brinjal from the advances of a genetically modified variety, is off to a colourful start here.

The festival, organized after the threat of Bt. Brinjal started looming large over the future of the Mararikulam Brinjal, was inaugurated by Local Self Government Minister Paloli Mohammedkutty in the presence of Agriculture Minister Mullakara Ratnakaran and Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac at the Kanichukulangara Temple grounds here on Sunday.

The week-long event, which according to its organizers can be seen as part of various nationwide attempts to block the entry of Bt. Brinjal into the fragile vegetable market here, is expected to drum up public

opinion against the genetically modified version of the brinjal, focusing on the negative effects of the latter on ecological biodiversity as well as human health.

An agricultural cum industrial exhibition, which is already on; organic farmers’ get-togethers; a documentary film festival on the various aspects of genetically modified food substances that will begin on Wednesday; discussions on what panchayats can do to help indigenous agricultural methods survive the onslaught of genetic engineering; and a national seminar on the entire issue of organic brinjal versus Bt. Brinjal, to be held on January 2; are part of the festival, according to general convener D. Priyesh Kumar.

The national seminar, which is expected to gather, put together, analyze and bring out a concise version of scientific opinion on the subject, will be inaugurated by P.M. Bhargava, founder director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad. State Planning Board vice-chairman Prabath Patnaik, scientists and activists including Dinesh Abrol, T.K. Bose, Suman Sahai and G.V. Ramanjaneyulu will be part of the seminar.

The agricultural and industrial exhibition, meanwhile, is already drawing crowds with its stalls on the varieties of brinjal apart from those exhibiting methods of successful organic farming.

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