A group of scientists, academicians and farmers observed a day’s protest fast at the Kolkata Book Fair on Saturday against the possible release of genetically modified crop Bt Brinjal for commercial cultivation.

“The volunteers from Green Peace, city-based green body Development Research Communication and Services Centre (DRCSC) and the farmers of an organisation called Seva participated in the fast,” Green Peace’s sustainable agricultural campaigner R. Jaykrishna told IANS.

He said the fast is being observed at stall no.20 to generate awareness and build up public opinion against the ill effects of Bt Brinjal cultivation.

“Several farmers, who cultivate brinjals, from Kolkata’s adjoining North 24 Parganas district participated in the protest. We will also hold a cultural event and a candlelight march across the fair premises this evening to oppose the introduction of Bt Brinjal,” Mr. Jaykrishna said.

The central environment ministry is holding public consultations in various Indian cities to decide if it will allow the commercial release. Last October, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee of the government had cleared it.

But a member of the committee, Pushpa Bhargava, has alleged that all necessary tests were not carried out before the decision was taken.

Earlier, hundreds of farmers and scientists protested against the introduction of Bt Brinjal during a public consultation held in January in Kolkata in the presence of central Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.

Several scientists and green groups also raised the issue of bio-technology and environment friendliness of this new agricultural produce, citing fears over health security.

“We’ll not allow Bt Brinjal in the commercial market. We all protest against the decision of introducing this crop,” said Alauddin Ahmed, a farmer of Atghara village in North 24 Parganas.

According to an another report a similar protest was held in Hyderabad by activists against Bt Brinjal on Saturday , on the eve of the public consultation to be held in the city.