dna barcoding catches food fraudsters, identifies animals

dna barcoding catches food fraudsters, identifies animals

from ctv: Scientists have discovered a range of new uses for a Canadian technology that can be used to peer into 30,000-year-old permafrost, detect phoney herbal medicines and catch invasive species before they sneak across borders. Researchers from around the world are fingerprinting most of the planet's species by taking samples of their DNA and cataloguing them in a comprehensive reference library. The DNA creates a so-called barcode that can identify real ingredients in food, quickly analyze water quality and reveal how the environment has changed over millenia. Bob Hanner, a professor at the University of Guelph where the technique was developed, said barcoding gives governments, businesses and people a reliable way of knowing what they're eating, importing and buying. "We have a very powerful tool to identify species in processed products that you wouldn't normally be able to identify using traditional morphological techniques," Hanner said from Guelph, Ont., before heading to an international conference on barcoding in Australia starting Monday.