Clearly defining agriculture-related terms used in biosafety and biotechnology issues is key. This is especially the case as biotechnology is a broad concept that includes many techniques and methods–from conventional plant breeding and tissue and cellular culture to marker assisted selections and genetic transformations. Note that the technologies regulated in most countries under current agreements are Living Modified Organisms (LMO). The fact that a specific technology is an LMO constitutes the regulatory trigger. An exception to this role is Canada, which does not regulate based on whether a product is an LMO, but rather if the product itself is novel compared to existing applications.
Biotechnology: 1. “Any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivative thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use” (Convention on Biological Diveristy). 2. “Interpreted in a narrow sense…a range of different molecular technologies such as gene manipulation and gene transfer , DNA typing and cloning of plants and animals” (FAO Statement on biotechnology).Biodiversity: The variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems. Synonyms: biological diversity, ecological diversity.
Biosafety: Referring to the avoidance of risk to human health and safety, and to the conservation of the environment, as a result of the use of research and commerce of infectious or genetically modified organisms.
Living Modified Organisms (LMO): Living organisms that posses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology (Convention on Biological Diversity). Synomym of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), but restricted to organisms that can endanger biological diversity.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO): An organism that has been transformed by the insertion of one or more transgenes.
Transgene: An isolated gene sequence used to transform an organism. Often, but not always, the transgene has been derived from a different species than that of the recipient.
Source: FAO Glossary of biotechnology for food and agriculture, 2001.