The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Library (NAL) has released the 2011 edition of the online NAL Agricultural Thesaurus and Glossary (NALT), which adds 3,441 new terms and 321 definitions.

Terminology in the new edition has been especially expanded in areas associated with nanotechnology, food safety risk assessment and sustainable agriculture.

Among the terms added are:

*Quantum dots — Nanometer-sized fragments (30 nm to 1 micron) of semiconductor crystalline material that holds a discrete number of electrons and emits photons. The number of electrons can be altered by modifying the electrostatic environment of the dot.

*Fomites — Inanimate objects that carry pathogenic microorganisms and can serve as the source of infection. Microorganisms typically survive on fomites for minutes or hours. Common fomites include clothing, tissue paper, hairbrushes, and cooking and eating utensils.

*Ecolabeling — A symbol, graphic or statement that appears on products or their packaging to convey an environmental aspect of that product to the consumer.

The thesaurus and glossary are primarily used for indexing and for improving the retrieval of agricultural information, but they can also be used by students—from fifth-grade up—teachers, writers, and others who are seeking precise definitions of words from the agricultural sciences.

"All our definitions are drawn from existing authoritative government sources or are painstakingly constructed and reviewed by NAL staff-often with the help of ARS scientists or University of Maryland researchers—to ensure they are accurate," said NAL technical information specialist Lori Finch, who oversees NALT. "With that kind of expertise coming together, people can trust that they're getting precise definitions of agricultural and scientific concepts."

The NALT, which now contains more than 82,000 terms, has an international following and is regarded as among the most authoritative resources of its kind. It is cooperatively produced in English and Spanish by NAL and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture.

NAL is part of the Agricultural Research Service, the principal intramural scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.