Glossary of terms related to the CBD


specialised haploid cell (sometimes called a sex cell) whose nucleus and often cytoplasm fuses with that of another gamete in the process of fertilisation field. [CUB]
- the functional unit of heredity; the part of the DNA molecule that encodes a single enzyme or structural protein unit.
- the unit of heredity transmitted from generation to generation during sexual or asexual reproduction. More generally, the term 'gene' may be used in relation to the transmission and inheritance of particular identifiable traits. [FAO]
- the units of heredity transmitted from generation to generation. Each gene is a segment of nucleic acid carried in the DNA encoded for a specific protein. More generally, the term 'gene' may be used in relation to the transmission and inheritance of particular identifiable traits. The basic unit of heredity, a gene is an ordered sequence of nucleotide bases comprising a segment of DNA. A gene contains the sequence of DNA which encodes one polypeptide chain. The sum of an organism's genes is known as its genome. [CUB]
The variant forms of each gene are termed alleles.
a storage facility where germplasm is stored in the form of seeds, pollen, embryos, semen, pollen, or in vitro culture, or in cryogenic storage, or, in the case of a field gene bank, as plants growing in the field. [GBA]
gene flow
exchange of genetic traits between populations by movement of individuals, gametes or spores.
gene mapping
determination of the relative positions of genes on a DNA molecule (chromosome or plasmid) and of the distance, in linkage units or physical units, between them. [CUB]
gene pool
the total amount of genetic material within a freely interbreeding population at a given time.
copies of well-known drugs for which patent protection has expired. Companies specialising in generics invest little on research, or only on research in manufacturing procedures. The average price of a generic is 30 per cent below that for patented products. [CUB]
genetic distance
a measure of the genetic similarity between any pair of populations. Such distance may be based on phenotypic traits, allele frequencies or DNA sequences. For example, genetic distance between two populations having the same allele frequencies at a particular locus, and based solely on that locus, is zero. The distance for one locus is maximum when the two populations are fixed for different alleles. When allele frequencies are estimated for many loci, the genetic distance is obtained by averaging over these loci. [FAO]
genetic distancing
the collection of the data on phenotypic traits, marker allele frequencies or DNA sequences for two or more populations, and estimation of the genetic distances between each pair of populations. From these distances, the best representation of the relationships among all the populations may be obtained. [FAO]
genetic diversity
- the diversity of genes within and among populations of a species. This is the lowest level of biological diversity.
- variation in the genetic composition of individuals within or among species; the heritable genetic variation within and among populations.
genetic drift
random gene frequency changes in a small population due to chance alone.
genetic engineering
- the identification of genes coding for useful traits and their introduction into other species of plants and animals ('transgenic species'). Genetic engineering offers the possibility of correcting genetic defects at source, or introducing new, desirable genetic characteristics that will stay with the subject and may be passed on to its successors.
- manipulation of DNA to form a hybrid molecule, a new combination of non-homologous DNA (so-called recombinant DNA). The technique allows the bypassing of all the biological constraints to genetic exchange and mixing and may even permit the combination of genes from widely differing species. Genetic engineering developed in the early 1970s. [CUB]
genetic erosion
loss of genetic diversity between and within populations of the same species over time; or reduction of the genetic basis of a species due to human intervention, environmental changes, etc.
genetic marker
a gene with a clear, unambiguous phenotype used in genetic analysis to identify individuals that carry it or other linked genes. May act as a probe to mark a nucleus, chromosome or locus. [CUB]
genetic material
any material of plant, animal, microbial or other origin containing functional units of heredity. [CBD]
genetic resources
- genetic material of plants, animals or micro-organisms, including modern cultivars and breeds, primitive varieties and breeds, landraces and wild/weedy relatives of crop plants or domesticated animals, of value as a resource for future generations of humanity. [GBA]
- genetic material of actual or potential value. [CUB]
genetically modified organism (GMO)
the modification of the genetic characteristics of a micro-organism, plant or animal by inserting a modified gene or a gene from another variety or species. GMOs may be micro-organisms designed for use as biopesticides or seeds that have been altered genetically to give a plant better disease resistance or growth. [CUB]
- all the genes of a particular organism or species.
- the complete set of genes and non-coding sequences present in each cell of an organism, or the genes in a complete haploid set of chromosomes of a particular organism. [FAO]
- the genetic endowment of an organism. When expressed, this will result in the observable characteristics or phenotype. [CUB]
the study of genomes including genome mapping, gene sequencing and gene function. The use of this information in the development of therapeutics. [CUB].
the entire genetic constitution of an organism, or the genetic composition at a specific gene locus or set of loci.
germ cell
a small organic structure or cell from which a new organism may develop. [CUB]
- genetic material, especially its specific molecular and chemical constitution, that comprises the physical basis of the inherited qualities of an organism.
- the genetic material which forms the physical basis ofheredity and which is transmitted from one generation to the next by means of germ cells. [CUB]
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
the multi-billion-dollar GEF was established by the World Bank, UNDP and UNEP in 1990. It operates the Convention's 'financial mechanism' on an interim basis and funds developing-country projects that have global biodiversity benefits. [CUB]
Global Partnership on Biodiversity
CBD Decision VII/26 (3) requests the Executive Secretary to examine options for a flexible framework between all relevant actors, such as a Global Partnership on Biodiversity (GPBio), in order to enhance implementation through improved cooperation, and to report to COP-8 on possible ways forward. The GPBio could act as an inclusive partnership to assure ownership and effective coordination between all institutions that contribute to the implementation of biodiversity commitments. On this basis the partnership would involve the so-called biodiversity cluster (CBD, RAMSAR, CITES, CMS, WHC) and other instruments and bodies essential for the implementation of the CBD and the achievement of the 2010 targets (UNCCD, UNFCCC, GEF, UNEP, FAO, UNFF, UNDP, World Bank, IUCN, WTO, CGIAR, WBCSD, etc.).
Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)
government or industry set standards for the production of safe, efficacious, and high-quality ingredients and products. [CUB]
green petroleum
bioprospecting seen as the means to a new 'green petroleum', capable of bringing wealth to the gene-rich, but financially poor countries of the South  (ref.: K. ten Kate, 1995. Biopiracy or Green Petroleum? Expectations & Best Practice in Bioprospecting.
- Overseas Development Administration, Environment Policy Department, London).
greenhouse gases  (GHGs)
gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, that tend to trap heat radiating from the Earth's surface, thus causing warming in the lower atmosphere.
The major GHGs causing climate change are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). The Kyoto Protocol also addresses hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), ans sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). 
Group of  77 and China
the G-77 was founded in 1964 in the context of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and now functions throughout the UN system, comprising some 132 (in 1999) developing country members.
Developing countries generally work through the Group of 77 and China to establish common negotiating positions on issues of interest to them, such as finance and technology transfer. However, because the G-77 and China is a diverse group with different interests, individual developing countries also intervene in debates, as do groups within the G-77, such as the African Group and AOSIS.
a group of species found in the same place that share the same food resource. Example: the lizard species of a sand dune that feed on insects. [GBA]
Genetic Use Restriction Technologies;
see Terminator technology and Traitor technology

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Last updated  08-07-2005 .

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