agrobacterium - Agrobacteria is a soil bacteria that works as a natural genetic engineer. In nature, it forces plants to become good hosts by inserting genes into plant cells causing plants to make metabolites agrobacterium need for growth. Genetic engineers have taken advantage of agrobacteria's natural abilities by utilizing them to insert an altered piece of DNA into a host organism.
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) - A group of bacteria naturally occurring in soil that produce proteins, when ingested by specific insects, bind to their stomach lining (epithelium cell) receptors, and are toxic. There are thousands of strains of Bacillus thuringiensis each toxic to a limited group of insects such as beetles, flies, and moths. The advantage of crops engineered to produce Bt proteins is that they are toxic to a limited number of insects and are harmless to all mammals.
DNA - DNA is the recipe for life. DNA is a molecule found in the nucleus of every cell and is made up of 4 nucleotides Adenine (A), Guanine (G), Thymine (T), and Cystosine (C). The order of the nucleotides in the DNA strand holds a code of information for the cell.
event - An event is the insertion of a particular transgene into a specific location on a chromosome. The term "event" is often used to differentiate genetically engineered crop varieties.
genetic engineering - Genetic engineering is the process of manually adding new DNA on a molecular level with the goal of adding one or more new traits that are not already found in that organism. For the purposes of this web site, genetic engineering includes recombinant DNA and gene splicing technologies.
genetic modification - The selective and purposeful alteration of genes by humans. Genetic modification includes methods of incorporating new genes or traits into an organism through genetic engineering, mutagenesis and traditional breeding methods.
herbicide resistance - Herbicide resistance is when plants become resistant to the negative effects of a particular herbicide formulation or are genetically engineered in order to have resistance to a particular herbicide. Herbicide-resistant crops can be sprayed with a particular herbicide, killing weeds growing in and around the crop plants, without being damaged.
insect resistance management - A set of strategies to reduce the frequency of resistance in crop pests. These strategies are widely referred to as Insect Resistance Management.
novel foods - Novel foods are products that have never been used as a food; foods which result from a process that has not previously been used for food; or, foods that have been modified by genetic manipulation. This last category of foods have been described as genetically modified foods (often referred to as GM foods, genetically engineered foods or biotechnology-derived foods). Definition from Health Canada Web site
protein - Proteins do the work in cells. They can be part of structures (such as cell walls, organelles, etc), regulate reactions that take place in the cell or they can serve as enzymes, which speed-up reactions. Everything you see in an organism is either made of proteins or the result of a protein action.
refuge - A refuge is any host plant (non-Bt crop, potatoes, oats, sorghum, and some weeds) not producing Bt proteins or not being treated with conventional Bt formulations. The purpose of the refuge is to supply a source of susceptible insects that may mate with resistant insects of the same species emerging from nearby Bt crop fields. If the refuge is large enough, susceptible insect numbers should outnumber resistant individuals, and in theory, a greater number of the next generation offspring will be susceptible to the Bt crop.
resistance - The evolved ability of a species to survive during a stressful event or set of circumstances.
risk assessment - Defined as a formalized basis for the objective evaluation of risk in a manner in which assumptions and uncertainties are clearly considered and presented.
selectable marker genes - Genetic engineers must be able to select cells that have received the transgene from those that have not. Selecting out transgenic cells is done by co-transforming the cells with the transgene plus an additional gene called a selectable marker gene. Selectable marker genes are genes that encode easily detectable traits making transgenic cells discernible from non-transgenic cells. The two most commonly used selectable marker genes encode the traits of herbicide and antibiotic resistance.
substantial equivalence - The concept of substantial equivalence is used as a guide in the safety assessment of genetically modified foods by comparing the novel food to its unmodified counterpart which has a history of safe use. This approach allows regulatory agencies to include in their consideration, the substantial history of information related to foods which have long been safely consumed in the human diet to aid in the identification of potential safety and nutritional issues. Definition from Health Canada Web site.
susceptibility - When individual or species will become ill or possibly die in the face of the stressful event or circumstances.
transformation - Transformation is the step in the genetic engineering process where a new gene (transgene) is delivered into the nucleus of a plant cell and inserts into a chromosome where it is passed on to progeny. Transformation means to genetically change a living thing.
transgenic - A genetically engineered plant created through transformation is sometimes referred to as a transgenic.