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Glossary

The Glossary provides a list of definitions of common terms, acronyms and expressions used throughout the BCH Central Portal.

Disclaimer: Please note that this glossary is presented in a summary form to enable you to more easily access and use the information in the Biosafety Clearing-House, and is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal interpretation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Please refer to the text of the Protocol for any further information.

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Advance Informed Agreement procedure (AIA)
Advance informed agreement (AIA) procedure under the Protocol applies to the first intentional transboundary movement of LMOs for intentional introduction into the environment of the Party of import. AIA includes steps of notification by an exporting Party or exporter, acknowledgement of notification and risk assessment and decision making by an importing Party. See Question # 13 (What is the Advance Informed Agreement (AIA) Procedure?) of the  FAQ on the Biosafety Protocol
 
Advanced search
A complex search function that includes an array of fields for searching the BCH databases that is significantly wider than the basic search.
 
Article 11
For LMOs intended for direct use as feed or food or for processing, the Protocol establishes a special procedure under Article 11 that requires countries to exchange information at an early stage, through the Biosafety Clearing-House, such as: to give notice of domestic authorizations of LMOs and to make available copies of national laws and regulations applicable to the import of these LMOs. Article 11  describes the form of decisions that may be taken by both potential exporting and importing Parties and that need to be made available to the Biosafety Clearing-House.

Decision under Article 11(1): a decision regarding domestic use, including placing on the market, of an LMO that may be subject to transboundary movement for direct use as food or feed, or for processing.

Decision under Article 11(4): a decision on the import of living modified organisms intended for direct use as food or feed, or for processing, under its domestic regulatory framework.

Decision under Article 11(6): a decision taken by a developing country Party or a Party with an economy in transition, in the absence of a domestic regulatory framework, prior to the first import of an LMO intended for direct use as food or feed, or for processing.

Declaration under Article 11(6): a declaration that a decision prior to the first import of an LMO intended for direct use as food or feed, or for processing, on which information has been provided under Article 11(1), will be taken according to the following:

(a)A risk assessment undertaken in accordance with Annex III; and
(b)A decision made within a predictable timeframe, not exceeding 270 days.
 
Authority Control
The process of establishing a standard form for a term in the BCH, and creating cross-references from variant or related forms to the standard form.
 
Basic search
A simple search function that includes fewer fields for searching the BCH databases than the advanced search. See also Quick search.
 
BCH Web Service
The BCH web service is a platform-independent system that can be used by other applications (software) to exchange information with the BCH.
 
Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH)
The Biosafety Clearing-House was established under Article 20 of the Biosafety Protocol in order to facilitate the exchange of scientific, technical, environmental and legal information on, and experience with, living modified organisms; and to assist Parties to implement the Protocol.  Please see the Biosafety Protocol website for further information.
 
Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH) Central Portal
The Central Portal is maintained by the CBD Secretariat as the web-based main point of entry to find information in the Biosafety Clearing-House. Among other things, the Central Portal aggregates information relevant to implementation of the Biosafety Protocol that is provided by different sources, and provides users with the ability to search for information in six languages. For further information, please visit the about this site section.
 
Biosafety Clearing-House National Focal Point (BCH-NFP)
National Focal Point responsible for liaison with the Secretariat on technical issues related to the Biosafety Clearing-House.
 
Biosafety Expert
An individual with expertise in one or more biosafety-related disciplines who is nominated by his/her government to the biosafety Roster of experts (ROE)
 
Biosafety Information Resource Centre (BIRC)
The BIRC is an online searchable database containing electronic catalogues of biosafety-related publications and information resources (including: news services, e-mail listservs, online databases and search engines, reports and case studies, journals and newsletters, as well as teaching materials (manuals, toolkits and presentations).
 
Biosafety Protocol
 
Boolean searching
A method of constructing more precise search queries by using multiple search terms modified by the operators AND, OR, and NOT. These operators define the relationship between the search terms. See p. 5-8 of Module 5: Organizing Your Data in the BCH Toolkit.
 
Broader term
Indicates the more general class to which a term belongs in the controlled vocabulary; everything that is true of a term is also true of its broader term (e.g. Gossypium is broader than Gossypium hirsutum).
 
Capacity-Building
Under Article 22 of the Protocol, capacity-building focuses on the development and/or strengthening of human resources and institutional capacities in biosafety, including biotechnology to the extent that it is required for biosafety of developing country Parties, in particular the least developed and small island developing States among them, and Parties with economies in transition, for their effective implementation of the Biosafety Protocol. Please see Question #19 (How does the Protocol address capacity-building?) of the Protocol FAQ for further information.
 
Capacity-Building Action Plan
The objective of the Action Plan is to facilitate and support the development and strengthening of capacities for the ratification and effective implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety at the national, sub regional, regional and global levels in a timely manner. Follow this link for the text of the Action Plan
 
Capacity-building needs and priorities database
National and regional capacity-building needs and priorities required to implement the Biosafety Protocol that have been identified and categorized in line with the elements of the capacity-building action plan. Follow this link to access the Capacity-building needs and priorities database
 
Capacity-building opportunities database
Includes information on available or upcoming capacity-building opportunities, such as: technical assistance, scholarships and fellowships, personnel exchange/internships, scientific and technical cooperation, partnerships, discussion forums, professional networks, and others. Follow this link to access the Capacity-building opportunities database
 
Capacity-building projects database
Includes information on various ongoing biosafety capacity building projects and other relevant initiatives, such as the UNEP/GEF project on development of national biosafety frameworks. Each record contains basic information about each project/initiative, including: its status and location, the lead organization(s) and contacts, funding details, objectives and activities, main outcomes, lessons learned and a brief description. Detailed information should be requested directly from the respective contact persons. Follow this link to access the Capacity-building projects database
 
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (Biosafety Protocol)
The Biosafety Protocol is an international agreement negotiated and adopted under the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Objective of the Protocol is to contribute, in accordance with the precautionary approach contained in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, to contribute to ensuring an adequate level of protection in the field of the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health, and specifically focusing on transboundary movements. Please see the Protocol web site for further information.
 
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety National Focal Point (CPB-NFP)
National Focal Point responsible for liaison with the Secretariat on Protocol issues, as designated under Article 19 of the Protocol.
 
CBD Secretariat
The Convention on Biological Diversity established a Secretariat that undertakes functions described under Article 24 of the Convention. The Secretariat, which is now based in Montreal, Canada, is charged by the Protocol with additional responsibility to also serve as the Secretariat of the Biosafety Protocol. The Secretariat maintains the Central Portal of the BCH.
 
Central Portal of the BCH
 
Clearing-house mechanism (CHM) of the Convention
The clearing-house mechanism (CHM) of the Convention was established in accordance with Article 18(3) of the Convention on Biological Diversity to promote and facilitate technical and scientific cooperation. The Biosafety Clearing-House is established as part of the CHM under Article 20 of the Protocol.
 
Collaborative Portal
A collaborative portal is a workspace established to allow its members to communicate, exchange information and work collaboratively on different issues.
 
Common Format
A standardized way to organize and present information to the BCH. Common formats make searching for information in the BCH databases easier and more efficient.  Please follow this link to download the various common formats that are used to report information to the BCH.
 
Common name
The common name of an organism is name by which and organism is generally known as outside of its scientific taxonomic name (e.g. Gossypium hirsutm is commonly known as cotton).
 
Compendium of Biosafety Training Courses
The Compendium includes a listing of recurrent biosafety education and training programs offered by academic and other relevant institutions around the world.
 
Competent national authority
Competent national authorities are designated and authorized by governments to be responsible for performing the administrative functions required by Article 19 of the Biosafety Protocol, and to act on their behalf with respect to those functions. Click here to access the Competent National Authorities database.
 
Conference of the Parties (COP)
The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity is the intergovernmental supreme decision-making body with regard to the implementation of the Convention.
 
Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (COP/MOP)
The Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP) serves as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (the 'COP-MOP'), in accordance with Article 29 of the Protocol. The COP-MOP consists of all Parties to the Protocol and its main functions are to review the implementation of the Protocol and make decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation.  For further information, please visit the Protocol website.
 
Contained use
Under Article 3 of the Protocol, contained use means any operation, undertaken within a facility, installation or other physical structure, which involves living modified organisms that are controlled by specific measures that effectively limit their contact with, and their impact on, the external environment.
 
Controlled Vocabulary
A thesaurus of pre-defined list of terms and related synonyms used in a specific context. Controlled vocabularies are used to register and search for information in the BCH databases. See also: broader term; narrower term; non-preferred term; preferred use term; related term; use for.
 
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an international agreement dedicated to the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources, including by appropriate access to genetic resources, by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies and by appropriate funding. The Biosafety Protocol is an international agreement negotiated and adopted under the CBD.  Please see the Convention website for further information.
 
Convention on Biological Diversity National Focal Point (CBD-NFP)
Convention on Biological Diversity National Focal Points (CBD-NFPs) are responsible for communication with the CBD Secretariat on a particular topic. The BCH Central Portal only provides the CBD-NFP(s) of a government when no Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety National Focal Point (CPB-NFP) is available
 
Cookie
A cookie is a series of data characters that is placed by a Web Server into the browser's application folder on your computer. Once placed onto your machine, the cookie will allow the web site (in this case, the BCH) to "recognize" you as a unique individual. Cookies are used only to view information on your hard drive that was put there by a cookie from this Site (e.g. the date the website was last accessed from your computer).
 
Country of origin of genetic resources
Under Article 2 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Country of origin of genetic resources means the country which possesses those genetic resources in in-situ conditions.
 
Current Awareness Mailing List
This service sends out regular updates summarizing new information that has been added to the BCH, sent directly to users by email (or to a specified fax number).  The categories of information to be included in the summaries, and the frequency of their delivery are individually customizable for each user.
 
Decisions
The BCH provides access to final decisions taken by Parties to the Protocol regarding the importation or release of living modified organisms. See Article 20 of the Protocol.
 
Discussion forum
The discussion forums are a service that allows users to exchange information on a variety of topics.
 
Domestic regulatory framework
A domestic regulatory framework may include national laws, regulations and guidelines for implementation of the Biosafety Protocol.
 
Donor organism
The organism which donates genetic material to the host organism.
 
Downloadable file
Files that may be downloaded from the BCH in word or PDF format include lists of NFPs and CNAs that are generated on a daily basis, BCH-related forms and documents, and modules of the BCH training toolkit. Follow this link for access to the downloadable files.
 
Dublin Core
A set of standards for describing a wide range of networked resources. See p. 2 of Module 4: Connecting Your Data in the BCH Toolkit.
 
Emergency Measures (Article 17) Contact Point
This point of contact is set out for the purposes of receiving notifications under Article 17 - regarding unintentional transboundary movements of living modified organisms and emergency measures.
 
Export
Under Article 3 of the Protocol, export means intentional transboundary movement of living modified organisms from one Party to another Party.
 
Exporter
Under Article 3 of the Protocol, exporter means any legal or natural person, under the jurisdiction of the Party of export, who arranges for a living modified organism to be exported.
 
Extensible Markup Language (XML)
Extensible Markup Language describes a class of data objects called XML documents and partially describes the behavior of computer programs which process them. XML is an application profile or restricted form of SGML, the Standard Generalized Markup Language. Please see the W3C recommendation for more information.
 
Free text
Refers to any non-standardized form field where the user may type in an entry, as opposed to having to refer to a controlled vocabulary.
 
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The BCH FAQ provides answers to questions that often arise or are essential to the use of the BCH. See also the FAQ on the Biosafety Protocol for further information relevant to the Protocol in general.
 
Genetic material
Under Article 2 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, genetic material means any material of plant, animal, microbial or other origin containing functional units of heredity.
 
Genetic resources
Under Article 2 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, genetic resources means genetic material of actual or potential value.
 
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is the financial mechanism of the Convention on Biological Diversity (in accordance with Article 21 of the Convention) as well as the Biosafety Protocol (in accordance with Article 28 of the Protocol). The [url=http://www.gefweb.org/]Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established in 1991 to help developing countries fund projects and programs that protect the global environment.
 
Habitat
Under Article 2 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, habitat means the place or type of site where an organism or population naturally occurs.
 
Handling, transport, packaging and identification of LMOs
Article 18 of the Protocol addresses the issue of handling, transport, packaging and identification of LMOs. Please see the Protocol website for further information.
 
Header Bar
Quick links to general information about the BCH website. Appears on most pages of the BCH website.
 
Horizontal gene transfer
Horizontal gene transfer refers to the direct (nonsexual) transfer of genetic material between unrelated species.
 
Import
Under Article 3 of the Protocol, import means intentional transboundary movement of living modified organisms into one Party from another Party.
 
Importer
Under Article 3 of the Protocol, importer means any legal or natural person, under the jurisdiction of the Party of import, who arranges for a living modified organism to be imported.
 
Informal Advisory Committee on Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH-IAC)
The Informal Advisory Committee on Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH-IAC) is mandated to assist the SCBD, with a particular focus on providing guidance with respect to resolution of technical issues associated with the ongoing development of the Biosafety Clearing-House.
 
Intergovernmental Committee on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (ICCP)
The Intergovernmental Committee on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (ICCP) was established by the COP with the mandate to undertake the preparations necessary for the first meeting of the Parties to the Protocol.  Following entry into force of the Protocol, and convening of COP/MOP-1 in February 2004 in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, the ICCP ceased to exist.
 
Intergovernmental organization (IGO)
Intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) are collective groups where the members are comprised of nation states, as opposed to individuals. To be considered an IGO a formal agreement or treaty must be convened and a membership base of more than three governments. There must also be the establishment of a permanent secretariat which is designated to perform ongoing tasks.
 
Interim Guidelines for the Pilot Phase of the Voluntary Fund for the Roster of Experts on Biosafety
The pilot phase of the Voluntary Fund for the Roster of Experts is established to support developing country Parties, in particular the least developed and small island developing States among them, and Parties with economies in transition, to pay for the use of experts selected from the Roster.
 
Interoperability
The ability for information to be shared across applications, platforms, or systems.  Further information on making your data interoperable with the BCH is available in Module 4 of the BCH toolkit.
 
Introduced or modified trait
An introduced or modified trait is a genetic trait introduced to create an LMO. Examples include chemical tolerance, pest resistance, virus resistance, reproductive alteration, etc.
 
Keyword search
A free word search function that includes several fields in the BCH databases.
 
Left navigation bar
The main navigation bar for the BCH website. Appears on most pages of the BCH website.
 
Living modified organism (LMO)
Under Article 3 of the Protocol, a living modified organism is any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology. Please see Question #3 (What is a Living Modified Organism (LMO)?) of the FAQ on the Biosafety Protocol for further information.
 
Living modified organism (LMO) Products
Under Article 20.3(c) of the Protocol, LMO products are processed material that are of living modified organism origin, containing detectable novel combinations of replicable genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology.  Please see Question # 4 (What are LMO products?) of the FAQ on the Biosafety Protocol for further information.
 
Living modified organism intended for direct use as food or feed, or for processing (LMO-FFP)
LMOs intended for direct use as food or feed, or processing represent a large category of agricultural commodities. Please see Question # 14 (What is the procedure for LMOs intended for direct use as food or feed, or for processing?) of the FAQ on the Biosafety Protocol for further information
 
Living Organism
Under Article 3 of the Protocol, living organism means any biological entity capable of transferring or replicating genetic material, including sterile organisms, viruses and viroids.
 
Management Centre
The Management Centre is an area on the BCH Central Portal where registered users can register, delete, or update information in the BCH databases.
 
Metadata
Data that describes other data. Standardizing metadata facilitates searching for information on the BCH databases and interoperability. See Module 4: Connecting Your Data in the BCH Toolkit.
 
Modalities of operation of the Biosafety Clearing-House
The Modalities of operation of the Biosafety Clearing-House were adopted by the COP-MOP at its first meeting, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 23 to 27 February 2004.
 
Modern biotechnology
Under Article 3 of the Protocol, "modern biotechnology means the application of:
a. In vitro nucleic acid techniques, including recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and direct injection of nucleic acid into cells or organelles, or
b. Fusion of cells beyond the taxonomic family,
that overcome natural physiological reproductive or recombination barriers and that are not techniques used in traditional breeding and selection".
 
Narrower term
Indicates a more specific term or member of a class in the controlled vocabulary (e.g. Gossypium hirsutum is narrower than Gossypium).
 
National Authorized User
National Authorized Users are nominated by BCH National Focal Points, and are permitted to register information with the BCH. However, to ensure the authenticity of the information, the BCH National Focal Point is required to verify the accuracy of any record before it is validated and made public.
 
National Biosafety Framework (NBF)
A national biosafety framework may include a combination of policy, legal, administrative and technical instruments that are set in place to address safety for the environment and human health in relation to modern biotechnology.
 
National Focal Point (NFP)
National Focal Points are responsible for communication with the CBD Secretariat on a particular topic.
 
National guideline
A national guideline is intended to assist with providing ways of complying with national laws, and national regulations.
 
National law
A national law is a law that has been passed by the national legislative body of a country’s government.
 
National regulation
In most jurisdictions, a national regulation is ‘subordinate legislation’, usually of an administrative nature, that is authorized by a national law.
 
Non-preferred term
A non-preferred term is a synonym to a preferred use term in the controlled vocabulary that has an equivalent meaning to the preferred use term, but is not used for indexing records (e.g. “bananas” is a non-preferred term for “banana”). 
 
Online Conference
The BCH online conference facility is primarily web-based and threaded; however, to address issues of equitable access, provision is also made for users to send and receive posts through email only, or to register to receive the daily digest by fax.  The BCH hosted its first online conference from 18 October to 15 November 2004 on ‘Biosafety Considerations in the use of Genetically Modified Organisms for Management of Animal Populations’.
 
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is a group of 30 member countries sharing a commitment to democratic government and the market economy.
 
Party to the Cartagena Protocol
A State or regional economic integration organization that has ratified, accepted, approved or acceded to the Protocol.  Please see Questions # 29-35 (Becoming a Party to the Protocol) of the FAQ on the Biosafety Protocol for further information.
 
PDF
Adobe® Portable Document Format. A universal file format for electronic distribution that preserves the appearance of documents regardless of the application and platform used to create it. It is typically a read only document and can be viewed with the free Adobe Acrobat® Reader®.
 
Pilot Phase of the BCH
The Intergovernmental Committee for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (ICCP) recommended that the Biosafety Clearing-House should be established in a phased manner beginning with a pilot phase. The first meeting of COP-MOP approved the transition from the pilot phase to the fully operational phase and adopted modalities for its operations (Decision BS-I/3). Further information about the development of the Biosafety Clearing-House is available on the Biosafety Protocol website.
 
Preferred use term
A preferred use term in the controlled vocabulary is the term selected from among synonyms to be used for indexing and retrieval purposes. This term may also be used instead of non-preferred terms. This term is translated into the six UN languages to enable multi-lingual functionality of the BCH.
 
Quick Search
A fast and simple search of records held in the BCH databases. Appears on most pages of the BCH Central Portal. See also Basic search.
 
Really Simple Syndication (RSS)
Subscribing to the BCH's RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed offers users an easy way to subscribe to automatic updates when new news items are added to the BCH site.
 
Regional agreement or arrangement
Any regional agreements and arrangements established in accordance with Article 14 of the Protocol, are registered with the BCH under Article 20, paragraph 3(b) of the Protocol.
 
Regional economic integration organization
Under Article 3 of the Protocol, Regional economic integration organization means an organization constituted by sovereign States of a given region, to which its member States have transferred competence in respect of matters governed by this Protocol and which has been duly authorized, in accordance with its internal procedures, to sign, ratify, accept, approve or accede to it.
 
Related term
Brings to the user's attention terms in the controlled vocabulary that are associated because of overlapping meanings or other relationships (e.g. taxonomic and common names for organisms).
 
Resource Description Framework (RDF)
A common framework for representing information about resources on the web that can be exchanged between different applications or systems.
 
Risk Assessment
A risk assessment is an environmental review of an LMO generated by a regulatory process, and carried out in accordance with Article 15 and Annex III of the Protocol. Please see Question #12 (What are the main features of the Protocol?) in the FAQ on the Biosafety Protocol for further information.
 
Roster of Experts
A regionally balanced Roster of Experts in biosafety, nominated by Governments, was established by COP decision EM-I/3 and aims “to provide advice and other support, as appropriate and upon request, to developing country Parties and Parties with economies in transition, to conduct risk assessment, make informed decisions, develop national human resources and promote institutional strengthening, associated with the transboundary movements of living modified organisms.” The Interim Guidelines for the Roster of Experts on Biosafety explains the operations of the roster and the roles and responsibilities of the administrator (the Executive Secretary), nominating governments, and experts.
 
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD)
 
Semantic interoperability
Semantic interoperability refers to agreements about content description standards. The Dublin Core, the description standard adopted by the BCH, is an example of a semantic interoperability standard.
 
Simple National Application for the Biosafety Clearing-House (NBCH)
The Simple National Application for the Biosafety Clearing-House (NBCH) is a software tool designed to achieve off-line BCH data entry and data transfer to the Central Portal of the BCH. The NBCH is also a reference tool for systems developers.
 
Site map
The Site map is an illustration of how the website of the BCH Central Portal is organized.
 
SOAP
SOAP Version 1.2 is a lightweight protocol intended for exchanging structured information in a decentralized, distributed environment. Please see the W3C recommendation for further information. See p. 5-6 of Module 4: Connecting Your Data in the BCH Toolkit.
 
Structural interoperability
Structural interoperability offers a structure to assist with interoperability between applications for the exchange of web-based machine-readable information and provides means for specifying semantic schemas so that they can be shared. The BCH has adopted the Resource Description Framework (RDF). See p. 4-8 of Module 4: Connecting Your Data in the BCH Toolkit.
 
Thesaurus of the BCH
 
Thread
General posts to an online conference or discussion forum form part of the main discussion, while responses to particular posts created subtopics, or “threads” in the discussion.
 
Toolkit
Five tutorial modules that explain how to use the BCH website.
 
Transboundary Movement
Under Article 3 of the Protocol, transboundary movement means the movement of a living modified organism from one Party to another Party, save that, for the purposes of Articles 17 and Article 24, transboundary movement extends to movement between Parties and non-Parties.
 
Unique Identification (UID)
Unique identification systems are being established to identify living modified organisms. They are usually a combination of alphabets and numbers used to distinguish one organism from the other, and allow for attaching and retrieving specific information on the organism. To search the BCH UID database, please follow this link.
 
Use for
Entries for preferred use terms in the controlled vocabulary indicate when they should be used instead of a non-preferred term, such as an alternative phraseology or synonym (e.g. use “banana” for “bananas”).
 

   
   
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