Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has criticised non-governmental organisations that receive support from abroad for stalling the use of genetic engineering in agriculture and leading protests against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu.

In an interview published in the latest issue of journal Science, Dr. Singh pointed to the potential of biotechnology, saying “in due course of time we must make use of genetic engineering technologies to increase the productivity of our agriculture.”

But controversies had arisen. “There are NGOs, often funded from the United States and the Scandinavian countries, which are not fully appreciative of the development challenges that our country faces.”

Then, referring to the protests at Kudankulam, he said: “the atomic energy programme has got into difficulties because these NGOs, mostly I think based in the United States, don't appreciate need for our country to increase the energy supply.”

Asked whether nuclear power had a role in India despite the Fukushima disaster in Japan, he said, “Yes, where India is concerned, yes. The thinking segment of our population certainly is supportive of nuclear energy.”

On investment in R&D, he reiterated the view that such spending should be raised from about 1per cent of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to about 2 per cent. Public sector spending on research as a proportion of the GDP was “roughly the same” as that of other developing countries. “It is the private sector in our country which has to do a lot more.”

Over the next five years, the effort would be to gradually increase the proportion of money spent on R&D and at the same time “create a system of incentives which will induce the private sector to increase their spending on science and technology.”

To a question whether India was competing with China, he said the two countries were at a stage of development where both had to compete and cooperate.