Widespread protests marked the visit of Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh, to a national consultation on commercialisation of Bt brinjal.

In a novel method of registering their resentment to attempts to allow commercial production of Bt brinjal in the country, hundreds of women under the banner of Orissa Nari Samaj (ONS) took out a funeral procession of Bt brinjal. They set a model of Bt brinjal on fire at Mahatma Gandhi Marg here on Saturday.

Raising slogans against the scientific community that was reportedly sponsored by multinational companies, the ONS members exhibited indigenous varieties of brinjal, which they claimed was produced with the use of organic manure.

“The act of trading science for money has proved beyond doubt that it has spoiled the planet and consequently there is global warming. Doomsday may not be far unless the people’s movement brings a halt to the act of these destroyers of indigenous seeds,” said G. John, executive director of THREAD, an NGO that spearheaded the mass movement against genetically modified food crops.

Women members also held a parallel consultation meeting along the Mahatma Gandhi Marg where they opposed the introduction of Bt brinjal saying the approval of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) was a conspiracy against farmers.

Rights activists, scientists and other people from different walks of life addressed the gathering.

Incensed at the selection of venue, ONS spokesperson Karmi Besra said the KIIT campus was deliberately chosen to keep people from giving their opinions on the issue .

Later, ONS activists and members of other NGOs marched towards the KIIT campus to gift Mr. Ramesh organic brinjals. Various farmers’ organisations from far away districts of Keonjhar, Bolangir and Mayurbhanj had reached the venue with placards to show their resentment to attempts to allow Bt brinjal in the country.

The Union Ministry for Environment and Forests had commissioned the Centre for Environment Education to undertake public consultations across the country and seven locations have been finalised for this .

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