The SNP’s motto for its next manifesto should be: "Stop the world we want to get off." There is no more fitting epithet for a party that can only look backwards while the rest of the planet moves forward.

The Nationalists have made plain their intention to halt two brand-new industries that, if given free rein, could only bring progress to the country.

As Westminster announced yesterday it would fast-track applications for fracking licences in the rest of Britain, the Scottish Government stuck to its indefinite ban on the practice.

Ministers in London recognise the need to explore and develop shale gas and oil resources that, they say, would help meet the UK’s "objectives for secure energy supplies, economic growth and lower carbon emissions".

In Scotland, though, the instinct when confronted with ground-breaking (literally in this case) technology is to retreat into a reactionary corner that would do the Luddites proud. Never mind that fracking could potentially slash energy bills for ordinary families, as it has done in the US; if it’s unconventional, it must be stopped.

Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s energy minister, blocked all fracking schemes under development earlier this year, despite the Government’s experts concluding that there were no significant technological or safety barriers – and despite the boss at Grangemouth refinery saying the future of his plant depended on fracked gas.

The shale-gas revolution about to take place in England will, it is estimated, create up to 60,000 new jobs, provide millions of pounds of community benefit payments to those regions that host drilling pads and establish a shale gas sovereign wealth fund for the north of England.

Meanwhile, Scots will be trapped in a time warp, where eco-friendly and efficient nuclear energy is also despised, waiting in vain for some of the massive subsidies paid to the renewables industry to reach their pockets.

This week, Scottish ministers took another step into the dark ages when they announced that the growing of genetically modified crops would be banned north of the Border. Although proclaimed safe by the European Union and in widespread use worldwide to feed starving millions, Nationalists think they know better.

Richard Lochhead, the rural affairs minister, said Scotland will opt out of European consents for cultivating GM crops, including a variety of maize that has already won EU approval, and six other crops pending authorisation.

His reasoning, in the face of all informed opinion to the contrary, is that he wants to protect our "clean, green status". He also said GM crops could damage the country’s £14 billion food and drink sector.

This is wrong-headed in so many ways that it’s hard to believe the minister, who has had his portfolio for years, has not been put under political pressure. The Nationalists rely on support from the green lobby in their independence bid but don’t need the two Greens’ votes in the Scottish Parliament.

This, then, is more to appease the far left that has evolved from ban-the-bomb protests to climate change politics, encompassing opposition to any development that resembles scientific advancement.

But with GM crops, their arguments are based on wilful ignorance. Huw Jones, professor of molecular genetics at the internationally respected Rothampsted Research, described Mr Lochhead’s decision as a sad day for science and a sad day for Scotland.

He said: "GM crops approved by the EU are safe for humans, animals and the environment. If approved, this decision serves to remove the freedom of Scottish farmers and narrows their choice of crop varieties to cultivate in the future."

It was at Rothampsted recently that a team, including Scottish researchers, demonstrated in the first-ever field trials that it is possible to produce omega-3 fish oils from GM oilseed crops.

This breakthrough offers hope that a land-based source of fish oil can be fed to farmed fish, reducing their dependence on limited ocean resources. The Europeans will be quick to exploit this discovery for commercial purposes but it looks like Scotland will be left behind.

Mr Lochhead knows that this country’s farmed salmon is the nation’s most valuable food export, worth £500 million a year. He should also probably be aware of the extensive work on GM omega-3, much of which has been conducted at the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture.

For this industry alone, he should have thrown his weight behind the EU’s consents and reassured the Stirling scientists that their endeavours would, in time, reap rewards for the whole country.

But his decision has also disturbed the Scottish agriculture community. UK ministers have allowed farmers in England and Wales to have a choice about GM crops but in Scotland the Government has made that decision for them.

The farmers’ union, NFU, has reacted angrily, with chief executive Scott Walker saying he was concerned that Scottish farmers would be disadvantaged.

He said: "Other countries are embracing biotechnology and we should be doing the same. These crops could have a role in shaping sustainable agriculture and protecting the environment which we all cherish in Scotland."

Farmers are not the only ones who see Mr Lochhead’s move as a missed opportunity. As reported in The Herald earlier this week, a former chief scientific adviser to the Scottish Government said it was not clear what evidence Mr Lochhead’s policy was based on and warned that it could harm Scottish agriculture.

Professor Anne Glover said it was not possible to equate clean and green, with anti-GM.

"Traditional agriculture is heavily reliant on substantial chemical input to fertilise and protect from pests and disease. Judicious use of GM varieties could reduce the need for such heavy chemical input," she said.

Given the authority of such views, why does the SNP persist in turning back the clock? With another election looming, and not many votes for the party in the countryside, they are pandering to what they describe as consumer fears.

But it is for ministers, with their access to the best available advice, to allay public prejudices about issues such as genetic modification and fracking. Our Nationalist politicians, however, seem more intent on stoking up popular hysteria than driving change that could have lasting advantages for Scotland.

In this, they are motivated by a desire to be different from the rest of the UK, to go against whatever Westminster does even if, as in the GM case, it makes good economic and environmental sense, and to reinvent Scotland as a fantastical utopia.

The main elements of this fictionalised paradise are re-distributed oil riches for everyone (only there isn’t quite as much to go round as they thought), free prescriptions (but not necessarily any GPs to write them out), and free university tuition (though few school leavers from poorer areas will make the grade).

The SNP’s argument for building this fairytale society is enshrined in socialist gobbledegook that would make Jeremy Corbyn quail. But, as always, their real aim is not to improve Scotland but to isolate it, and if holding back the tide of technology furthers that ambition, so be it.

For a country steeped in invention and discovery this is a disaster. With North Sea opportunities disappearing, what are the prospects for Scotland’s future generations of scientists if every innovation is to be spurned by the SNP?