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Every science requires a special language because every science has its own ideas.
~Étienne Bonnot de Condillac (1715-1780)

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Term Definition
terminator hoax

The Terminator (Orion Pictures)a long discredited report that Bt cotton planted in India contains a type of GURT dubbed terminator technology.  In fact, the holders of the patent for the terminator gene never introduced it to the field, in any crop, anywhere in the world.  Terminator technology caused second generation seed sterility, and thus had the potential to prevent the unwanted spread of engineered genes into non-GE plant varieties.  It was criticized and ultimately abandoned because farmers choosing to grow these varieties would have had to purchase new seed each planting season (just as they do when they use hybrid seed).

third-generation GE crops

biomanufacture pharmaceuticals (drugs, vaccines) or industrial products (e.g. plastics) in traditional crops.


plant cells, pieces of leaves, or even roots that can be used to generate a whole new plant on culture media, given the required nutrients and plant hormones.


a physical characteristic (like flower color, stem length, and seed shape) brought about by the expression of one gene or many genes. Variations in these characteristics are dependent upon the particular alleles an individual has for the genes determining the trait.


the process of making messenger RNA molecules from genomic DNA (the first step in gene expression).


a gene that is taken from the genome of one organism and introduced into the genome of another organism using recombinant DNA technology.

transgene by colostate.edu

transgenic agriculture

any farming system that employs genetically engineered crop varieties. Over the past few thousand years, virtually all crops have been genetically modified, but since 1995 it has been possible to change some crops more specifically using genetic engineering. Farmers choose to grow transgenic crops when they offer significant advantages over parental varieties. Some GE crops are tolerant to specific herbicides (e.g. roundup ready sugar beets), often reducing tillage requirements and total herbicide application levels. Some are resistant to viral diseases (e.g. ringspot-resistant papaya). Some are resistant to certain insect pests because of specific protein toxins they express (e.g. Bt cotton), increasing yields and reducing broad-spectrum pesticide use. And some are biofortified to increase their nutritional value (e.g. golden rice). See also genetic modification, genetic engineering, GMO.

transgenic variety

a crop genetically identical to its parental variety, except for its transgene(s).


the process of making proteins based on the instructions in messenger RNA molecules (the second step in gene expression).

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