Select Committee on European Communities Second Report



Directives and Regulations
1139/98Labelling of certain foodstuffs produced from genetically modified organisms
2100/94Community plant variety rights
258/97Novel foods and novel food ingredients
90/219/EECContained use of genetically modified micro-organisms
90/220/EECDeliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms
90/679/EECProtection of workers from risks related to exposure to biological agents at work
98/44/EECLegal protection of biotechnological inventions

ACREAdvisory Committee on Releases into the Environment
ACNFPAdvisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes
ACGMAdvisory Committee on Genetic Modification
APHISAnimal and Plant Health Inspection Service (of the United States Department of Agriculture)
CAConsumers' Association
CEGConsumers in Europe Group
COSHHControl of substances hazardous to health
CWSCo-operative Wholesale Society
DETRDepartment of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
DNADeoxyribonucleic acid, a large molecule which contains all genetic information in the cell for cellular structure, organisation and function
ECEuropean Community
EPA(United States) Environmental Protection Agency
FACFood Advisory Committee
FDA(United States) Food and Drug Administration
FDFFood and Drink Federation
FSAFood Standards Agency
GMGenetic modification (or manipulation)/genetically modified (or manipulated)
HSCHealth and Safety Commission
HSEHealth and Safety Executive
LGCA private limited company, formerly the Laboratory of the Government Chemist
MAFFMinistry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
NFUNational Farmers' Union of England and Wales
NIH(United States) National Institutes of Health
OECDOrganisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
SISystème International (the international system of units of measurement); or Statutory Instrument
SNCAsStatutory Nature Conservation Agencies: English Nature, Scottish Natural Heritage, Countryside Council for Wales and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee
UNEPUnited Nations Environment Programme
UPOVInternational Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants
USUnited States of America
USDAUnited States Department of Agriculture

Technical Terms

Antibiotic— a substance derived from micro-organisms (e.g. bacteria) that destroys or inhibits the growth of other micro-organisms. Many antibiotics are used as drugs in treating disease

Antibiotic marker gene—a gene which expresses a protein that enables the organism carrying the gene to tolerate the antibiotic. A marker gene is a gene with a phenotype that can be selected for in gene transfer experiments

Back-crossing—cross of a hybrid plant to either one of its parents

Base—the components of the DNA molecule. There are four types of bases known as adenine (A), guanine (G), thymine (T) and cytosine (C). The sequence of bases determines the genetic code

Biological process—a process which involves a reaction normally carried out in a living cell or organism

Biotechnology—the industrial use of biological processes

BtBacillus thuringiensis - a harmless soil-living bacterium used as a pesticide as it produces crystalline toxins specific to a range of insects

Cell—the smallest structural unit of all living organisms that is able to grow and reproduce independently; a cell is formed of a mass of living material surrounded by a membrane

Chimera—an organism in which some of the cells (but not all) contain the inserted DNA

Code—the sequence of DNA bases which forms the instructions for a given characteristic or trait

Commercial release—a release of a genetically modified organism permitted under section C of Directive 90/220/EEC. Anyone throughout the Community is able to purchase, grow, sell and process the crop

Competent authority—the Member State authority responsible for issuing release consents. In the United Kingdom this is the Secretary of State (DETR or territorial), normally advised by ACRE where releases into the environment or marketing are concerned

Contained use—where the organism is not released into the environment. This might be in a laboratory, or concern an organism where escape and breeding is virtually impossible

Construct—gene sequence made in vitro containing the genes which on insertion will express the desired characteristic

Copy gene—genetic material incorporating the genetic code for a desirable trait which has been copied from DNA of the donor to the host organism. It is not technically possible to take a gene from a donor organism and insert it directly into the host organism

Crosses—breeding from different parental varieties

Cultivar—a plant variety

Deliberate release—Defined by Directive 90/220/EEC as "any intentional introduction into the environment of a GMO ... without provisions for containment such as physical [and/or] chemical ... or biological barriers used to limit their contact with the general population and the environment". Crops are thus released when planted outside

Double helix—the physical structure of DNA, consisting of two parallel strands of DNA coiled helically so that the two strands are complimentary

Enzyme—a protein produced by living cells that regulates the speed of the chemical reactions involved in the metabolism of living organisms, without itself being altered in the process; also called a biological catalyst

Expression—manifestation of the genetic material of the organism

Feral population—a plant which successfully invades a new habitat

Gene—the biological unit of inheritance; a segment of DNA which provides the genetic information necessary to make one protein

Gene gun—a method of introducing genes into cells by firing at high velocity gold particles to which DNA is adsorbed into the cells

Genetic modification—a technique where individual genes can be copied and transferred to another living organism to alter its genetic makeup and thus incorporate or delete specific characteristics into or from the organism. The technology is also referred to as genetic engineering, genetic manipulation and gene technology

Genetically modified organism—an organism in which the genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination

Gene product—a protein which is formed on expression of a gene

Gene stacking—the formation of an organism containing a number of genes all of which are the result of different genetic modifications

Hazard—the situation that in particular circumstances could lead to harm

Herbicide—a substance toxic to plants used to destroy unwanted vegetation

Herbicide tolerance—(in the context of genetic modification) herbicide tolerance introduced by the insertion of a gene or genes capable producing a gene product which inhibits or changes the effect of a herbicide on the plant

Hybrid —line of plants produced from a cross between genetically dissimilar parents

Identity preservation—a system for securing supplies of unmodified crops for the food industry. It involves ordering the crop in advance and "protecting" it until it reaches the food manufacturer's factory

In vitro—(of biological processes) taking place in a test tube or other laboratory equipment

Molecule—the smallest fundamental unit (usually a group of atoms) of a chemical compound that can take part in a chemical reaction

Novel food—a food which has not been used to a significant degree within the European Community and which falls under one of a number of categories defined in Regulation 258/97

Pathogenic—capable of causing disease symptoms

Pest resistance—(in the context of genetic modification) pest resistance introduced by the insertion of a gene or genes capable of pest resistance

Phenotype—observable characteristic of an organism, for example red flowers (whereas genotype—attributable to the genes)

Promoter—the part of a DNA sequence recognised as the signal for the start of a gene.

Product legislation—vertical as opposed to horizontal legislation, in this context for foods or feeds as opposed to the technique of genetic modification

Prokaryote—an organism which does not have a defined nucleus nor other cell organelles, for example all bacteria

Protein—any of a very large group of organic compounds composed of one or more chains of amino-acids and forming an essential part of all living organisms

Recombinant DNA—DNA that has been recombined using constituents from different sources

Recombinant DNA technology—the deliberate insertion of genes into a DNA molecule using the techniques of modern molecular biology

Recombination—the rearrangement, especially by crossing over in chromosomes, of nucleic acid molecules forming a new sequence of the constituent nucleotides

Refuge—an area of susceptible crop planted alongside the GMHT or GMPR crop which provides a safe haven for weeds or (more usually) insects where they are not subjected to competitive pressures to evolve resistance

Risk— the probability that a particular adverse effect occurs within a stated period of time or results from a particular challenge

Segregation—the physical separation of GM crops from unmodified crops in the field, at harvest and thereafter

Traceability—a system of record keeping capable of tracing the lineage of the crop to source

Trial release--a release of a genetically modified organism permitted under section B of Directive 90/220/EEC. This is an outdoors experiment conducted for research purposes

Transgene— inserted genes are termed "transgenes" to differentiate them from indigenous genes

Volunteer—plants which survive into the following growing season and which might then become a weed problem in a different crop planted for that season

Weed—a plant growing where it is not wanted

Zoning—separation of crops on a geographical, climatological or regional basis

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