back to article DNA barcodes leap out of the lab

The South Australian government has backed the commercialisation plans of a locally developed DNA barcoding technology to be launched internationally as a security and authentication tool. Biotech outfit GeneWorks claims its DNA barcoding invention, which can invisibly mark a range of valued items, is compatible with forensic …


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  1. Martin Budden


    How much will it cost me to spray-DNA-barcode all the stuff in my house?

    How much will it cost PC Plod to read the DNA-barcode on any recovered stolen stuff?

    If the tech is not reasonably cheap at both ends then it is doomed to be used only for super-high-end stuff e.g. priceless museum exhibits.

    1. Astarte


      We've been using Smartwater in the UK for years. It's a DNA-like coded water based liquid which can be sprayed or painted onto anything. It's often used in banks and high-value stores often in invisible and unnoticeable mist form which covers people and items. Very difficult to remove as it's absorbed into clothing, other items and the skin - washing won't remove it; it glows under UV. Samples can then be forensically examined to determine its unique 'DNA' code. Users claim extremely high conviction rates. It’s commonly seen in warning signs particularly on security delivery vehicles where they claim 100% conviction rates.

      1. Martin Budden

        Re: Smartwater

        I've just read up on SmartWater and it appears to be incredibly easy to foil: it relies on a "binary sequence" of different chemicals to create different combinations... so all the criminal needs to do is to walk into two or more shops before the crime to get coated with multiple overlayed sets of chemicals.

        Example: Let's say there are just ten chemicals called A to J. Two shops each have their own unique set of chemicals:

        Shop 1 has A B D H I

        Shop 2 has B C D F J

        Our cunning crim walks into both shops on purpose to get overlayed sprays and is now tagged like this:

        A B C D F H I J

        That's not going to stand up in court.

        On the other hand, a DNA system will have genuinely unique and *unmixable* signatures.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spraying DNA on things

    ... I believe there might exist some, erm, movies, containing examples of prior art.

    1. NozeDive

      Re: Spraying DNA on things

      I think I've seen some of those. They're a sort of "educational" genre. ;-)

    2. Martin Budden

      Re: Spraying DNA on things

      Which might be why the article makes no mention of any attempt to patent the technology.

  3. jon 72

    hang on a minute..

    didn't they stop using a similar system called 'Taggents' to track batches of explosives because less than five years of making it mandatory the bloody things could be found everywhere due to cross contamination?

    1. cortland

      Re: hang on a minute..

      It's been improved. IIRC, it was originally small plastic particles with the batch ID encoded in their structure. Now?

      QUOTE The researchers have applied this method to gunpowder, an example of an explosive, by adding two tin isotopes (Sn117 and Sn119). After preparing three different mixes (each with differing isotopic proportions so that they can be distinguished from one another), the results reveal that even after detonation the added tags can still be detected in the explosion remains. ENDQUOTE


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