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Don’t succumb to unscientific prejudices against Bt. crops: Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his inaugural address to the 101st National Science Congress being held in Jammu, cautioned against what he called “unscientific prejudices” against GM crops, stressing the importance of biotechnology and other new technologies for agricultural development. Premium
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his inaugural address to the 101st National Science Congress being held in Jammu, cautioned against what he called “unscientific prejudices” against GM crops, stressing the importance of biotechnology and other new technologies for agricultural development.

The Prime Minister announces a high performance computing mission and other science and research projects involving an outlay of at least Rs7,500 crore

New Delhi: The government on Monday announced a high performance computing mission and other science and research projects involving an outlay of at least Rs7,500 crore, while also making a pitch for genetically modified or GM crops, a contentious topic in India.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his inaugural address to the 101st National Science Congress being held in Jammu, cautioned against what he called “unscientific prejudices" against GM crops, stressing the importance of biotechnology and other new technologies for agricultural development.

“Use of bio-technology has great potential to improve yields. While safety must be ensured, we should not succumb to unscientific prejudices against Bt. crops," Singh said. “Our government remains committed to promoting the use of these new technologies for agricultural development."

On the other projects, he said the national mission on high performance computing will have an outlay of Rs.4,500 crore and that the national geographical information system was being considered at a budget of Rs3,000 crore.

Lauding India’s scientific achievements in the past year, such as the development of a Rota Virus vaccine and the country’s partnership in the Gravitational Wave experiment, Singh also noted the proposal to establish a neutrino-based observatory in Tamil Nadu and a fast-breeder reactor prototype that is likely to come up in Kalpakkam this year.

Genetically modified crops have often met with protests by activists claiming that certain GM crops are hazardous, but scientists insist the technology is necessary for India.

The Prime Minister in his address also highlighted the importance of better education facilities to encourage youngsters to take up science as a profession and said the government must increase its annual expenditure on science and technology to at least 2% of the gross domestic product. “To do science, someone must pay for it. This has to come from both government and industry," he said.

The Prime Minister named scientists selected for the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowships, launched recently to encourage scientists from abroad to work in India for 12 months over a period of three years.

The five-day long National Science Congress will have scientists from around the world present papers on various subjects. Delegates from 66 countries are expected to participate in the event. The theme of this year’s science congress is innovations in science and technology for inclusive development.

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