New Glossary on Biotechnology
FAO's Research and Technology Development Service (SDRR) has published a Glossary of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering. The purpose of the glossary is to give policy-makers, the public and the media a clear understanding of the terms and acronyms used in the field of biotechnology.
The rapid pace of technical innovation in biotechnology over the last two decades has led to the development of a variety of methods for modifying living organisms, including gene manipulation, gene transfer, DNA typing and the cloning of animals. These new techniques have sparked wide and often emotional public debate about the ethics of biotechnology and the safety of genetically modified foods. Governments have responded to these developments by entering into negotiations to establish an international framework regulating the movement and trade of products derived from biotechnology. These negotiations are finished but the debate will continue because of the need for national standards, regulations and controls on the products. Public opinion will play a very large role in determining government policies and there are many sharply differing views as to the perceived risks and benefits of these technologies. The Glossary of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering will provide 'common ground' on terminology, a vital tool in these sensitive debates.
This is the first edition of the Glossary and SDRR welcomes any comments and criticisms. At the moment, the Glossary is only available in English. The Glossary can be ordered through the Sales and Marketing Group, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy; by fax at +39 (06) 5705 3360; or by email at email@example.com
18 February 2000
FAO Regional Conference for Africa
Developments in sustainable forestry, the necessity of public investments in agriculture, and FAO's Special Programme for Food Security are among the items that will be discussed by the 21st FAO Regional Conference for Africa. The Conference takes place in Yaounde, Cameroon, from 21-25 February, More than 50 African FAO member countries will participate.
A key topic of the conference will be the loss of an estimated10.5 percent of Africa's forests between 1980 and 1995, as reported in "The Challenges of Sustainable Forestry Development in Africa". In this report FAO calls upon African governments, NGOs and the private sector to take serious action to reduce deforestation and to secure the implementation of national forest programmes.
FAO will also be calling for increased public investment in agriculture. In most African countries, agriculture has received less than 10 percent of the national budget during the last 40 years, yet its contribution to gross domestic output has been between 30 and 80 percent. The conference will discuss required actions and how FAO and national governments can facilitate new investment.
In relation to the sustainable expansion of FAO's Special Programme for Food Security, the conference will highlight the importance of strong national ownership of the implemented projects. The importance of African countries working together and sharing human resources through 'South-South cooperation' will also be stressed. Conference participants will also discuss follow-up to the World Food Summit.
18 February 2000
President of Ghana awarded Agricola medal
On 24 January, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf presented Ghanian President Jerry Rawlings with the prestigious Agricola medal for his important contribution to the promotion of agriculture in this West African country. Dr Diouf said Ghana's increased output in food production "has been a source of inspiration for other countries."
"Ghana reduced undernourishment more rapidly than any other country in the world between 1980 and 1996," according to the FAO report 'The state of food insecurity in the world 1999'. "Average food intake soared from 1 790 calories per day to more than 2 600 calories. The gains came entirely from increased food production, with imports remaining virtually unchanged."
The Agricola medal is given to an individual for his or her outstanding efforts in the promotion of sustainable food production and the eradication of poverty. Other recipients of the award have included Pope John Paul II, the late King Hassan II of Morocco, President Jiang Zemin of China and President Jacques Chirac of France.
In accepting the award, President Rawlings noted that despite the fact that knowledge and resources are sufficient, the world continues to suffer from hunger and poverty: "The fact that these exist against the background of phenomenal scientific and technological achievements in the last decades of the twentieth century imposes on us an obligation to intensify our efforts in this new century at making hunger and starvation a thing of the past."
27 January 2000
New and improved FAO publications catalogue now on line
The FAO electronic publications catalogue has been relaunched on the FAO Web site in a new and more accessible version.
The redesigned on-line catalogue comes with an improved search engine based on new and more detailed search criteria. Publications are presented - and can be sought - by title, publication year, language, series number and price. This will make it easier for the user to find and order one of the more than 7 000 titles available.
The catalogue includes more book reviews and new publications are highlighted on the site. Information is updated daily.
The catalogue is a source of reference for experts and lay people, farmers and trainers, booksellers and librarians. It is currently available in English, French and Spanish. An Arabic version is under preparation.
14 January 2000
Ceres Medal awarded to Prime Minister of Bangladesh
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh has been awarded the prestigious International Ceres Medal in recognition of her longstanding commitment to food security and agricultural development.
FAO Director-General Dr. Jacques Diouf presented the FAO-initiated medal to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a ceremony on 9 December, saying: "You have incessantly striven for the welfare of rural people and to combat hunger and rural poverty, by promoting the emancipation and empowerment of rural women."
The Ceres Medal is named after the Roman goddess of agriculture. The medal has been awarded since 1971, to distinguished women who have contributed to the fight against hunger. Recipients have included the late Indian Prime Minister Indira Ghandhi, Mother Teresa and Vigdis Finnbogadottir, former President of Iceland.
12 January 2000