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Glossary over Synthetic Biology

Artemisinin

Artemisinin is a fast acting and highly effective anti malarial drug derived from the plant Artemesia Annua L (sweet wormwood, also known as the Chinese herbal Qinghao).

To guarantee the effectiveness of artemisinin, it is best used in combination with a longer-acting partner drug.

(Source: GreenFacts, based on The Artemisinin Enterprise, About us  )

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Biochemistry

The study of the chemical processes and compounds occurring in living organisms. (Source: American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering Glossary  )

Biotechnology

Any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof to make or modify products or processes for specific use. (Source: MA  Glossary )

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Cell

The basic subunit of any living organism; the simplest unit that can exist as an independent living system. There are many different types of cells in complex organisms such as humans, each with specific characteristics. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Chemical element

A substance which cannot be separated into its constituent parts and still retains its chemical identity. For example, sodium (Na) is an element. (Source: US EPA Drinking Water Glossary  )

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Community

When referring to humans, a community is defined as:

A collection of human beings who have something in common.

A local community is a fairly small group of people who share a common place of residence and a set of institutions based on this fact, but the word ‘community’ is also used to refer to larger collections of people who have something else in common (e.g., national community, donor community).

When referring to other living organisms, a community is defined as:

An assemblage of species occurring in the same space or time, often linked by biotic interactions such as competition or predation. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )

Electric current

The electrical current is a physical phenomenon caused by the displacement of electrons or ions that induce electric fields. By convention, current is considered to be a flux of positive charges.

The intensity of the current is the quantity of charge which passes in a conductor per unit of time. The intensity of the current is measured in Amperes (A). (Source: Belgian BioElectroMagnetic Group Dictionary   )

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Genes

The functional and physical unit of heredity passed from parent to offspring. Genes are pieces of DNA, and most genes contain the information for making a specific protein. (Source: NHGRI Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms  )

Genetic Engineering

The technique of removing, modifying, or adding genes to a DNA molecule [of an organism] in order to change the information it contains. By changing this information, genetic engineering changes the type or amount of proteins an organism is capable of producing, thus enabling it to make new substances or perform new functions. (Source: US Department of Agriculture, Glossary of Biotechnology terms  )

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Human health

A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

The health of a whole community or population is reflected in measurements of disease incidence and prevalence, age-specific death rates, and life expectancy. (Source: MA Glossary  )

Insulin

A hormone made by [certain] cells of the pancreas. Insulin controls the amount of sugar in the blood by moving it into the cells, where it can be used by the body for energy. (Source: St Jude's Children's Hospital: Medical Terminology & Drug Database  )

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Malaria

Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted via the bites of infected [female] mosquitoes. In the human body, the parasites multiply in the liver, and then infect red blood cells.

Symptoms of malaria include fever, headache, and vomiting, and usually appear between 10 and 15 days after the mosquito bite. If not treated, malaria can quickly become life-threatening by disrupting the blood supply to vital organs. In many parts of the world, the parasites have developed resistance to a number of malaria medicines.

Key interventions to control malaria include: prompt and effective treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapies; use of insecticidal nets by people at risk; and indoor residual spraying with insecticide to control the vector mosquitoes. (Source: WHO Malaria  )

Risk

The probability that something will cause injury or harm. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

Risk assessment

A scientifically based process consisting of four steps:

  • hazard identification,
  • hazard characterization,
  • exposure assessment and
  • risk characterization
(Source:   Official Journal of the European Communities 2002 L 31 )

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Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety

The SCCS provides opinions on questions concerning all types of health and safety risks (notably chemical, biological, mechanical and other physical risks) of non-food consumer products (for example: cosmetic products and their ingredients, toys, textiles, clothing, personal care and household products such as detergents, etc.) and services (for example: tattooing, artificial sun tanning, etc.). For further information on the SCCS, see:

http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/consumer_safety/index_en.htm 

Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks

The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) was set up in 2004 by the European Commission to provide the Commission with unambiguous scientific advice on the safety of a series of issues requiring a comprehensive assessment of the risks, such as new technologies, medical devices, etc.

The SCENIHR advice is intended to enable risk managers to take the adequate and required actions in order to guarantee consumer safety or public health.

The SCENIHR addresses questions concerning emerging or newly-identified risks and on broad, complex or multi-disciplinary issues requiring a comprehensive assessment of risks to consumer safety or public health and related issues not covered by other Community risk- assessment bodies.

The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks is composed of a maximum of 13 members, but for any specific question may enlist the support of up to six associated members selected on the basis of their expertise. There is also a reserve list made up of candidates found suitable for a position in a Scientific Committee but not appointed. The members of the SCENIHR are appointed on the basis of their skills and experience in the fields in question, and consistent with this a geographical distribution that reflects the diversity of scientific problems and approaches in the European Union (EU). The experts' term of office is three years and is renewable for a maximum of three consecutive times. In agreement with the Commission, the Scientific Committees may turn to specialised external experts.

The SCENIHR complies with the principles of independence, transparency and confidentiality. The members therefore make a declaration of commitment to act in the public interest and a declaration of interests; requests for opinions, agendas, minutes and opinions are published; work and publications are done with regard to the need for commercial confidentiality. (Source: SCENIHR pages  )

Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks

The Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) is one of three independent non-food scientific committees that advise the European Commission on matters of consumer safety, public health and the environment.

The committee was set up in 2004 to provide the European Commission with scientific advice on health and environmental risks. It replaced the Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment (CSTEE).

SCHER addresses questions relating to examinations of the toxicity and ecotoxicity of chemicals, biochemicals and biological compound whose use may have harmful consequences for human health and the environment.

In particular, the Committee addresses questions related to new and existing chemicals, the restriction and marketing of dangerous substances, biocides, waste, environmental contaminants, plastic and other materials used for water pipe work (e.g. new organics substances), drinking water, indoor and ambient air quality. It addresses questions relating to human exposure to mixtures of chemicals, sensitisation and identification of endocrine disrupters.

The SCHER complies with the principles of independence, transparency and confidentiality. SCHER members therefore make a declaration of commitment to act in the public interest and a declaration of interests; requests for opinions, agendas, minutes and opinions are published; work and publications are done with regard to the need for commercial confidentiality.

For further information on the SCHER see:
SCHER website 

World Energy Council

The World Energy Council is the principal impartial network of leaders and practitioners promoting an affordable, stable and environmentally sensitive energy system for the greatest benefit of all.

Formed in 1923, the Council is the UN-accredited global energy body, representing the entire energy spectrum, with more than 3000 member organisations located in over 90 countries and drawn from governments, private and state corporations, academia, NGOs and energy-related stakeholders.

The World Energy Council informs global, regional and national energy strategies by hosting high-level events, publishing authoritative studies, and working through its extensive member network to facilitate the world’s energy policy dialogue. (Source: www.worldenergy.org   )

Yeast

Single-celled micro-organism that converts its food (sugar or starch) into alcohol and carbon dioxide through fermentation.

Yeast are used for making beer, wine, cheese and some breads. When making bread, the carbon dioxide produced by yeast makes the dough rise.

Yeast needs sugar or starch and a warm environment in order to grow. (Source: GreenFacts, based on WGBY Glossary )


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