Kolkata: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday called for a scientific approach to dealing with contentious issues such as genetically modified food and nuclear energy.

Speaking at the Indian Science Congress centenary session here, he said "complex issues" including those of "genetically modified food or nuclear energy or exploration of outer space cannot be settled by faith, emotion and fear but by structured debate, analysis and enlightenment".

"Scientific approach and understanding of these issues are, therefore, as vital as our core scientific capabilities," the prime minister said.

His remarks come in the wake of controversy over the issue of Bt food products, especially genetically modified brinjal, against which there was a campaign.

The Kudankulam nuclear power project in Tamil Nadu has also witnessed protests over safety concerns.
The prime minister said Indians "as a society, must enhance the spread of what Jawaharlal Nehru used to describe as the scientific temper. Our younger generations must adopt a science-based value-system in order to benefit from what science can offer and to make up for lost time".

"Complex issues, be they be genetically modified food or nuclear energy or the exploration of outer space, cannot be settled by faith, emotion and fear, but by structured debate, analysis and enlightenment, Singh observed.

"A scientific approach and understanding of these issues are, therefore, as vital as our core scientific capabilities," he added.

Talking about the new policy, Singh said the goal is to produce and nurture talent in science, to stimulate research and develop young leaders in science and to create an environment for greater private sector cooperation in research and innovation.

"The 12th plan, which was approved by the National Development Council (NDC) a few days ago, outlines a number of initiatives which will make this possible," he said.

Besides agriculture, he said the areas of equal concerns were energy security, sanitation and provision of safe drinking water.

He also said that international collaboration was vital for increasingly resource-intensive modern science to progress.

The congress was inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee in the presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Science and Technology minister S Jaipal Reddy, West Bengal governor and a host of nobel laureates and scientists.

(Agencies)

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