3 August 2001

DNA trace method

ANIMALS can be traced all the way to the plate using DNA signatures, according to a study reported in New Scientist.

The study by Ruedi Fries, a researcher at Munich University has developed a way to allocate a unique signature to each animal. "Cow genomes contain millions of combinations, each unique to an individual or breed," he says.

Existing methods, such as cattle passports and electronic tagging, are also good at tracing animals, says Chris Bostock, director of the Institute for Animal Health. "But DNA signatures would provide useful independent evidence." &#42