On Monday, September 5th, the Osia-Multiplex in Goa saw a lot of brinjals walking around the place. Greenpeace activists in Goa dressed up as brinjals and spoke to people about the dangers of genetically modified food.
The idea was to make people aware about the dangers of the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) bill. Most of these people also signed the petition asking the Prime Minister to stop this bill.
The BRAI bill is an attempt to create a body that will become the sole approver of genetically modified crops in the country. As per this bill, the body created will escape the purview of Right to Information act. If the bill is cleared and BRAI is created, then we will never know what we’ll eat.
Our team members were prepared to talk to people and get them to sign the petition. Two people in every team took turns to don the brinjal costumes and interact with people on the streets. The brinjals speaking to the people also held placards with the message, “I have the right to preserve my hereditary."
The brinjal costume itself was made by the team. When the activity was started, people were amused and some of them were also curious about the brinjals. They also wanted to know more about the purpose of the activity.
Last year, genetically modified Bt brinjal was very close to being commercialised. Thanks to public pressure the then Environment and Forest minister Jairam Ramesh, declared a moratorium on the commercial release of Bt brinjal. The brinjal therefore became the first food crop to stop its GM version from becoming commercially available.
All our efforts helped add to the over lakh signatures opposing the BRAI bill. All this opposition was later represented by the World’s Biggest Baingan Bharta which was made in Delhi. The BRAI bill did not get tabled in the monsoon session of Parliament, but it might come back in the next session. Our food is not safe yet and we need to be prepared to do all we can to keep it safe.