New Delhi, Feb 4 (IANS) It's baingan bhartha with a cause. Hoping to persuade Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh against the production of Bt Brinjal in India, the NGO Greenpeace is planning to churn out the dish with
20,000 brinjals - each of which will account for a signature of protest!
Greenpeace has launched an online campaign, 'World's Biggest Baingan Bhartha' and is collecting people's signatures to protest the government's plan to allow genetically modified (GM) brinjal production.
According to Greenpeace, there would be one brinjal for every person who signs the petition and those names will then be presented to Ramesh. The online campaign was launched Jan 28 with an aim to collect 10,000 brinjals
(signatures). More than 19,000 people have already signed the petition.
"Making the 'World's Biggest Baingan Bhartha' is an attempt to provide an opportunity to thousands of other people who want to protect our brinjal from contamination. It's an attempt to continue persuading Ramesh to say 'no' to Bt Brinjal," Jai Krishna of Greenpeace India told IANS.
"But in only 48 hours, we smashed our goal, so now we're aiming to collect 20,000 brinjals and will make the bhartha Feb 18 in Delhi. The venue is likely to be Dilli Haat and celebrity chef Tarla Dalal has expressed interest in being part of this creative campaign," he said.
"We will be buying the exact number of brinjals pledged by people to make the 'World's Biggest Baingan Bhartha'. The Limca Book of Records has also expressed interest in it," Jai Krishna added.
"The baingan bhartha will be provided to underprivileged people who are with the night shelters run by NGOs and the MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi). It will also be distributed to orphanages and churches who work with the
homeless and others," he explained.
The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), the country's biotech regulator, had last year given its nod for the commercial release of Bt Brinjal.
But Ramesh decided to conduct public hearings after a member of the committee alleged all necessary tests were not carried out before taking the decision. The public consultations are being held in Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Nagpur, Ahmedabad and Chandigarh.
Demanding that the government reverse its decision, farmers, scientists and NGOs have staged angry demonstrations and disrupted public hearings organised by the environment ministry on the issue in the past few days.
"Six consultations have ended with an emphatic 'No' from people and the last one is scheduled in Bangalore Feb 6. We have the largest resource of brinjals - about 2,500 varieties. The impact of one Bt Brinjal on the thousands of native brinjals is a serious threat to agro bio-diversity and the environment," Jai Krishna said.
"The health studies done on Bt Brinjal are inadequate and several scientists from various quarters, states have come forward in the six cities so far to make this clear. Majority of the farmers who have come for the consultations
have also voted against it," he added.