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(Last revised:May 5, 2010 )
(Further information: bbch@wiv-isp.be)

"Clearing-House": was originally used mainly in the banking sector, where it referred to a financial establishment where checks and bills were exchanged among member banks so that only the net balances needed to be settled in cash. Today, its meaning has been extended to include any agency that brings together seekers and providers of goods, services or information, thus matching demand with supply.

"Living organism" means any biological entity capable of transferring or replicating genetic material, including sterile organisms, viruses and viroids.

"Living modified organism" means any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology;
Living modified organisms (LMOs) are also commonly referred to as genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It is for example the case in EU legislation where the term GMO is always used. According to the terminology applied for the BCH the terms GMO and LMO are identical in meaning. Both terms are used in the Belgian Biosafety Clearing-House.

"Genetically modified organism": see "Living modified organism".

"Biotechnology" refers to any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for a specific use.
Biotechnology, in the form of traditional fermentation techniques, has been used for decades to make bread, cheese or beer. It has also been the basis of traditional animal and plant breeding techniques, such as hybridization and the selection of plants and animals with specific characteristics to create, for example, crops which produce higher yields of grain.
The difference with "modern biotechnology" is that researchers can now take a single gene from a plant or animal cell and insert it in another plant or animal cell to give it a desired characteristic, such as a plant that is resistant to a specific pest or disease.
In the Biosafety 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.

"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.

"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 24 transboundary movement extends to movement between Parties and non-Parties.

"Advance Informed Agreement (AIA) Procedure": procedure that applies to the first intentional transboundary movement of LMOs for intentional introduction into the environment of the Party of import (see Article 7 to 10 of the Protocol). It includes four components: notification by the Party of export or the exporter, acknowledgment of receipt of notification by the Party of import, decision procedure and review of decisions. The purpose of this procedure is to ensure that importing countries have both the opportunity and the capacity to assess risks that may be associated with the LMO before agreeing to its import. The Protocol's AIA procedure does not apply to certain categories of LMOs: LMOs in transit (see Article 6); LMOs destined for contained use (Article 6); LMOs intended for direct use as food or feed or for processing (see Article 7.3).

"LMOs-FFP": LMOs intended for direct use as food or feed, or processing. They represent a large category of agricultural commodities. The Protocol, instead of using the AIA procedure, establishes a more simplified procedure for the transboundary movement of LMOs-FFP (see Article 11).

"Precautionary Approach": One of the outcomes of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (also known as the Earth Summit) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992, was the adoption of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, which contains 27 principles to underpin sustainable development. One of these principles is Principle 15 which states that "In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation."
Elements of the precautionary approach find reflection in a number of the provisions of the Protocol, such as the preamble, Article 1, Article 10.6, Article11.8 and Annex III on risk assessment.

Main sources of information


BELGIAN BIOSAFETY CLEARING-HOUSE
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