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Agriculture & Development

 

Glossary over Agriculture & Development

Afforestation

The establishment of a forest through tree planting or seeding on land that has lacked forest cover for a very long time or has never been forested. (Source: GreenFacts)

Alien species

An alien species is a species introduced outside its normal distribution.

Invasive alien species are alien species whose establishment and spread modify ecosystems, habitats, or species. (Source: MA  Glossary )

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Allergy

Allergies are inappropriate or exaggerated reactions of the immune system to substances that, in the majority of people, cause no symptoms.

Symptoms of the allergic diseases may be caused by exposure of the skin to a chemical, of the respiratory system to particles of dust or pollen (or other substances), or of the stomach and intestines to a particular food. (Source: ACAAI Allergy-Immunology Glossary  )

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Alliance of Communicators for Sustainable Development

"Com+ is a partnership of international organizations and communications professionals from diverse sectors committed to using communications to advance a vision of sustainable development that integrates its three pillars: economic, social and environmental.

By offering a platform to share expertise, develop best practice and create synergies, Com+ hopes to actively support creative and inspiring communications across the world."

"Com+ envisions societies that advance and strengthen the three pillars of sustainable development — economic development, social equity and environmental conservation — at local, national, regional, and global levels." (Source: Com+ website  )

Antibiotics

A class of natural or man-made substances, such as penicillin, that kill or inhibit the growth of some micro-organisms. (Source: GreenFacts, based on CoRIS, Glossary  )

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Avian influenza

Avian influenza, or "bird flu", is a contagious disease of animals caused by viruses that normally infect only birds and, less commonly, pigs. Avian influenza viruses are highly species-specific, but have, on rare occasions, crossed the species barrier to infect humans. (Source: WHO, Avian influenza frequently asked questions  )

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Biodiversity

Biodiversity is a contraction of biological diversity. Biodiversity reflects the number, variety and variability of living organisms.

It includes diversity within species (genetic diversity), between species (species diversity), and between ecosystems (ecosystem diversity). (Source: GreenFacts)

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Bioenergy

Renewable energy made from materials from biological sources. Wood, charcoal, manure and crop residues are all traditional forms of bioenergy.

Bioenergy carriers produced from crops like maize or sugarcane are known as biofuels, while biogas refers to the mixture of methane and carbon dioxide produced by the bacterial decomposition of organic wastes. (Source: GreenFacts )

Biofuels

Biofuels are non-fossil fuels. They are energy carriers that store the energy derived from organic materials (biomass), including plant materials and animal waste.

They may be solid, such as fuelwood, charcoal and wood pellets; liquid, such as ethanol, biodiesel and pyrolysis oils; or gaseous, such as biogas. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Biomass

The total quantity or mass of organic material produced by living organisms in a particular area, at a given time. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Biotechnology

Any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof to make or modify products or processes for specific use. (Source: MA  Glossary )

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Carbon sequestration

The removal and storage of carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks (such as oceans, forests or soils) through physical or biological processes, such as photosynthesis.

Humans have tried to increase carbon sequestration by growing new forests. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Chronic

Occurring over a long period of time, either continuously or intermittently; used to describe ongoing exposures and effects that develop only after a long exposure. (Source: US EPA Thesaurus  )

Climate change

The long-term fluctuations in temperature, precipitation, wind, and all other aspects of the Earth's climate.

It is also defined by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change as “change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods” (Source: CoRIS glossary  )

Convention on Biological Diversity

"Signed by 150 government leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the Convention on Biological Diversity is dedicated to promoting sustainable development. Conceived as a practical tool for translating the principles of Agenda 21 into reality, the Convention recognizes that biological diversity is about more than plants, animals and micro organisms and their ecosystems – it is about people and our need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live." (Source: CBD website )

Deforestation

The conversion of forested land to non-forested land as a direct result of human activities. (Source: Forest Carbon Accounting Definitions  )

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DNA

DNA constitutes the molecules inside cells that carry genetic information and pass it from one generation to the next. (Source: NCI cancer.gov dictionary  )

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Ecosystem services

The benefits people obtain from ecosystems.

These include provisioning services such as food and water; regulating services such as flood and disease control; cultural services such as spiritual, recreational, and cultural benefits; and supporting services such as nutrient cycling that maintain the conditions for life on Earth. (Source: MA  Summary )

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Ecosystem(s)

The complex system of plant, animal, fungal, and microorganism communities and their associated non-living environment interacting as an ecological unit.

Ecosystems have no fixed boundaries; instead their parameters are set to the scientific, management, or policy question being examined. Depending upon the purpose of analysis, a single lake, a watershed, or an entire region could be considered an ecosystem. (Source: US EPA Glossary of Climate Change Terms   )

Enzyme(s)

A protein that encourages a biochemical reaction, usually speeding it up. Organisms could not function if they had no enzymes. (Source: NHGRI NHGRI Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms  )

Equity

Fairness of rights, distribution, and access. Depending on context, this can refer to resources, services, or power. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )

Fair trade

The concept of fair trade applies in general to trade operations which strengthen the economic position of small-scale producers and landowners in order to ensure that they are not marginalised in the world economy.

It mainly relates to developing countries and, under the present communication, covers two main aspects: · ensuring that producers, including employees, receive a share of the total profit commensurate with their input; · improving social conditions, particularly those of employees in the absence of developed structures for social services and worker representation (trade union representation for instance), etc.; This concept has long-term development in mind. Participation in initiatives on fair trade is voluntary for both sellers and consumers.

It is important to note that the concept of 'fair trade' is not the same as that of 'ethical trade'. 'Ethical trade' usually relates to the operating methods of companies present in the country (codes of conduct, for example). (Source: European commission, communication from the Commission to the Council of 29 November 1999 on 'fair trade' [COM(1999) 619]   )

Fermentation

The process by which micro-organisms break down complex organic substances generally in the absence of oxygen to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Food & Agriculture Organization

"The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy. FAO is also a source of knowledge and information. We help developing countries and countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices and ensure good nutrition for all. Since our founding in 1945, we have focused special attention on developing rural areas, home to 70 percent of the world's poor and hungry people. FAO's activities comprise four main areas:

  • Putting information within reach
  • Sharing policy expertise.
  • Providing a meeting place for nations.
  • Bringing knowledge to the field. "
Food web

The interconnected food chains (feeding relationships) in an ecosystem. Plants, herbivores, and carnivores all form parts of the food web. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Fossil fuel(s)

A general term for buried combustible geologic deposits of organic materials, formed from decayed plants and animals that have been converted to crude oil, coal, natural gas, or heavy oils by exposure to heat and pressure in the Earth's crust over hundreds of millions of years. (Source: US EPA Glossary of Climate Change terms  )

Freshwater

Water that is not salty, for instance water found in lakes, streams, and rivers, but not the ocean. Also used to refer to things living in or related to freshwater (e.g., "freshwater fish"). (Source: GreenFacts)

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Genetic Engineering

The technique of removing, modifying, or adding genes to a DNA molecule [of an organism] in order to change the information it contains. By changing this information, genetic engineering changes the type or amount of proteins an organism is capable of producing, thus enabling it to make new substances or perform new functions. (Source: US Department of Agriculture, Glossary of Biotechnology terms  )

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Genome

The complete set of genes of an organism.

The human genome for instance contains 30 000 to 40 000 genes. (Source: GreenFacts)

Genomics

The study of genes and their function. (Source: US EPA Computational Toxicology Research Glossary  )

Greenhouse gas

Greenhouse gases are those gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, both natural and anthropogenic, that absorb and emit radiation at specific wavelengths within the spectrum of infrared radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface, the atmosphere and clouds.

This property causes the greenhouse effect.

Water vapour (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), and ozone (O3) are the primary greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. Moreover there are a number of entirely human-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as the halocarbons and other chlorine and bromine containing substances, dealt with under the Montreal Protocol. Beside CO2, N2O and CH4, the Kyoto Protocol deals with the greenhouse gases sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs). (Source: IPCC Glossary  )

Gross Domestic Product

The total market value of goods and services produced within a nation during a given period (usually 1 year).

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Heavy metals

Metallic elements with high atomic weights, e.g. mercury, chromium, cadmium, arsenic, and lead.

They can damage living things at low concentrations and tend to accumulate in the food chain. (Source: US EPA Drinking Water Glossary  )

HIV/AIDS

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, a virus that infects cells of the human immune system and destroys or impairs their function. Infection with this virus results in the progressive depletion of the immune system, leading to immune deficiency.

Immunodeficient people are much more vulnerable to a wide range of infections, most of which are very rare among people without immune deficiency.

AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and describes the collection of symptoms and infections associated with acquired deficiency of the immune system. Infection with HIV has been established as the underlying cause of AIDS. (Source: UNAIDS Fast facts about AIDS   )

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Hormone(s)

Chemical messengers that help our body do different tasks. Hormones are produced by the endocrine glands and then sent all over the body to stimulate certain activities. For example, insulin is a well-known hormone that helps our body digest food. Hormones regulate our growth, digestion, reproduction and sexual function. (Source: EMCOM Endocrine disruptors glossary  )

International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development

"The International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) is a unique international effort that will evaluate the relevance, quality and effectiveness of agricultural knowledge, science, and technology (AKST); and effectiveness of public and private sector policies as well as institutional arrangements in relation to AKST. [...]

The IAASTD is a three-year collaborative effort (2005 - 2007) that will assess AKST in relation to meeting development and sustainability goals of:

  • Reducing hunger and poverty
  • Improving nutrition, health and rural livelihoods
  • Facilitating social and environmental sustainability

The project is a major global initiative, developed out of a consultative process involving 900 participants and 110 countries from all regions of the world.

The IAASTD was launched as an intergovernmental process, with a multi-stakeholder Bureau, under the co-sponsorship of the FAO, GEF, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, the World Bank and WHO.

Read the GreenFacts Digest summarizing the IAASTD

International Fund for Agricultural Development

"The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations, was established as an international financial institution in 1977 as one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference.

IFAD's mission is to enable the rural poor to overcome poverty.

IFAD is dedicated to eradicating rural poverty in developing countries. IFAD focuses on country-specific solutions, which can involve increasing rural poor peoples' access to financial services, markets, technology, land and other natural resources." (Source: IFAD website )

Malnutrition

A state of bad nourishment.

Malnutrition refers both to undernutrition and overnutrition, as well as to conditions arising from dietary imbalances leading to diet-related noncommunicable diseases. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )

Methanol

CH3OH. Methanol is the simplest alcohol and is toxic. At high concentrations, methanol can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and death. Acute exposure may cause blindness. Chronic exposure to methanol can cause liver damage. (Source: GreenFacts )

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Molecular Marker

Specific fragments of DNA that can be identified within the whole genome.

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Nutrients

The approximately 20 chemical elements known to be essential for the growth of living organisms, including nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, and carbon. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Glossary   )

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Obesity

Obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30.0 or greater (Source: GreenFacts, based on WHO Obesity  )

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Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is "an international organisation helping governments tackle the economic, social and governance challenges of a globalised economy(... It) groups 30 member countries sharing a commitment to democratic government and the market economy."

See their Environment Pages:

Pathogenic organisms

Organisms, including bacteria, viruses or cysts, capable of causing diseases (typhoid, cholera, dysentery) in a host (such as a person). There are many types of organisms which do NOT cause disease. These organisms are called non-pathogenic. (Source: US EPA US EPA Drinking Water Glossary, A Dictionary of Technical and Legal Terms Related to Drinking Water  )

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Pesticide

A toxic chemical product that kills harmful organisms (e.g., insecticides, fungicide, weedicides, rodenticides, acaricides). (Source: FAO Glossary of biotechnology & genetic engineering  )

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Reforestation

Planting of forests on lands that have previously contained forest but have since been converted to some other use. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )

Subsidy

Financial assistance (often from governmental bodies) to businesses, citizens, or institutions to encourage a desired activity deemed beneficial. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Sustainability

A characteristic or state whereby the needs of the present and local population can be met without compromising the ability of future generations or populations in other locations to meet their needs.

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Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation

"Poverty reduction and sustainable development are the principal tasks of the SDC. To facilitate the achievement of these goals, the SDC focuses on various thematic priorities. In each thematic domain, a sub-goal is targeted while ever keeping in mind the fact that the priority themes are intimately linked to one another." (Source: SDC website )

Taxonomy

The classification, especially of plants and animal, on the basis of differences and similarities between them. (Source: Illinois Wetlands Terms )

Toxic

Able to poison or harm an organism. Toxic substances can cause adverse health effects. (Source: GreenFacts)

Transgene

A gene from one [organism] that has been incorporated into the genome of another organism.

Often refers to a gene that has been introduced into a multicellular organism. (Source: GreenFacts, based on FAO Glossary of biotechnology & genetic engineering )

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United Nations

"The United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN: membership totals 191 countries*.

When States become Members of the United Nations, they agree to accept the obligations of the UN Charter, an international treaty that sets out basic principles of international relations. According to the Charter, the UN has four purposes: to maintain international peace and security; to develop friendly relations among nations; to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights; and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations." (Source: UN website )

United Nations Development Programme

"UNDP is the UN's global development network, an organization advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges. As they develop local capacity, they draw on the people of UNDP and our wide range of partners." (Source: UNDP website  )

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

"Today, UNESCO functions as a laboratory of ideas and a standard-setter to forge universal agreements on emerging ethical issues. The Organization also serves as a clearinghouse – for the dissemination and sharing of information and knowledge – while helping Member States to build their human and institutional capacities in diverse fields. In short, UNESCO promotes international co-operation among its 191 [as of March 2005] Member States and six Associate Members in the fields of education, science, culture and communication." (Source: UNESCO website  )

United Nations Environment Programme

"The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), established in 1972, works to encourage sustainable development through sound environmental practices everywhere. Its activities cover (...) the promotion of environmental science and information, to an early warning and emergency response capacity to deal with environmental disasters and emergencies."

See also UNEP.Net , which "delivers authoritative environmental information from a broad range of information and data providers (...)". (Source: UNEP website )

World Bank

The World Bank is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. With the aim to reduce global poverty and improve living standards, the World Bank provides low-interest loans, interest-free credit and grants to developing countries for education, health, infrastructure, communications and many other purposes. (Source: World Bank website  )

World Business Council for Sustainable Development

"The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a coalition of 170 international companies united by a shared commitment to sustainable development via the three pillars of economic growth, ecological balance and social progress.

Our members are drawn from more than 35 countries and 20 major industrial sectors. We also benefit from a global network of 45 national and regional business councils and partner organizations located in 40 countries, involving some 1,000 business leaders globally.

The WBCSD's activities reflect our belief that the pursuit of sustainable development is good for business and business is good for sustainable development." (Source: WBCSD website )

World Health Organization

"The World Health Organization  (WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations’ system. WHO experts produce health guidelines and standards, and help countries to address public health issues. WHO also supports and promotes health research. Through WHO, governments can jointly tackle global health problems and improve people’s well-being.

193 countries and two associate members are WHO’s membership. They meet every year at the World Health Assembly in Geneva to set policy for the Organization, approve the Organization’s budget, and every five years, to appoint the Director-General. Their work is supported by the 34-member Executive Board, which is elected by the Health Assembly. Six regional committees focus on health matters of a regional nature."

WHO's scientific publications are widely recognized as a reference source.

The WHO has a number of regional offices which address the specific issues of those regions.

WHO World Regional Offices
  WHO African Region  (46 countries)
  WHO European Region  (53 countries)
  WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region  (21 countries)
  WHO Region of the Americas  (35 countries)
  WHO South-East Asia Region  (11 countries)
  WHO Western Pacific Region  (27 countries)
World Trade Organization

"The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business." (Source: WTO website )


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