Food and Agriculture : Glossary

There are 46 documents in this section.

  • GM foods

    23 May 2002

    Foodstuffs that have had their genes changed (genetically modified - GM) in order to improve their productivity.

  • Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

    23 May 2002

    The CAP came into force in 1962, and is a system of rules which regulate the production, trade, and processing of agricultural products in the European Union. It establishes a common market for agricultural products between member states, and protects those products from international competition.

  • Sustainable development

    23 May 2002

    Sustainable development has as many definitions as subscribers. In essence, it refers to economic development that meets the needs of all without leaving future generations with fewer natural resources than those we enjoy today. It is widely accepted that achieving sustainable development requires balance between three dimensions of complementary change:

    • Economic (towards sustainable patterns of production and consumption)

    • Ecological (towards maintenance and restoration of healthy ecosystems)

    • Social (towards poverty eradication and sustainable livelihoods)

  • World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)

    23 May 2002

    The World Summit on Sustainable Development takes place from 26 August - 4 September 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Governments, UN agencies, and civil society organisations will come together to assess progress since the UN Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio in 1992 (hence the title 'Rio + 10' for the Johannesburg meeting).

    Sustainable development is defined in the report from the Rio meeting as being 'economic progress which meets all of our needs without leaving future generations with fewer resources than those we enjoy'.

  • National conservation strategies

    26 September 2001

    Plans that highlight country-level environmental priorities and opportunities for sustainable management of natural resources, following the example of the World Conservation Strategy published by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in 1980. Though governments may support preparation for the strategies, they are not bound to follow IUCN's recommendations.

  • Bio-gas

    8 August 2001

    A combustible gas (composed primarily of methane) produced when sewage or manure is fermented in the absence of oxygen. The solid material that remains in the digester after fermentation can be used as an organic fertilizer.

  • Biotechnology

    8 August 2001

    A wide range of techniques used to manipulate living organisms to develop or accentuate characteristics that human beings desire. Genetic engineering, in which the hereditary material of a plant or an animal modified at the molecular level, is one contemporary form of biotechnology.

  • Desertification

    4 April 2001

    Desertification means the degradation of land in dry areas of the world. It is not the spread of existing deserts, but rather the loss and destruction of healthy fertile soils. Loss of topsoil and soil fertility results in declining production of crops and livestock. Overall the problem is caused by people putting too much pressure on delicate soils and ecosytems. The main causes of degradation include:

  • Overgrazing - Too many livestock, such as goats or cows, strip the soil of its vegetation and expose it to erosion by wind and water;
  • Deforestation - Trees hold soil together and help water the land by channeling rainwater into the soil. When they are chopped down, the soil is eroded by the elements and is unable to hold water;
  • Overfarming - Overworking the land eventually drains the soil its nutrients, leaving it unable to produce crops;
  • Poor irrigation practices - Bad irrigation can lead to waterlogging and salinisation of soil.Over one-quarter fo the Earth's land surface has suffered erosion and soil degradation.

  • Ecology

    16 March 2001

    Originally defined by Ernst Haeckel in 1866, ecology is the study of the relationships that develop among living organisms and between these organisms and the environment.

  • Conservation (nature)

    9 March 2001

    Protection against irreversible destruction and other undesirable changes, including the management of human use of organisms or ecosystems to ensure such use is sustainable.