More on implants. Applied Digital Solutions (ADS) are the big boys in the
implant. The mistake is in thinking they're the only ones.
The USDA is poised to roll out a national cattle and swine tracking system
because of the BSE scare last year. This is no small endeavor. 104 million
cattle are slaughtered in the US each year. In Europe, the figures run about
100 million cattle, and 150 million swine. South America? Hundreds of millions
of animals. Huge markets. Big money for chip companies.
In my mind, the real answer is not tracking every cow that is born, but to
improve the living conditions of animals, reduce chemical and antibiotic use,
and reform the ways slaughterhouses treat animals and workers. This would give
us a safer food supply, but the meat industry (and the banking industry, who do
you think holds the huge loans and credit lines that build factory farms and
keep them afloat?) would be inconvenienced, so...<sarcasm> let's tag everything
that breathes, and let industry take care of itself. Self-regulation works so
darn well. </sarcasm>
I realize the best way to force industry change is not necessarily through
government regulation (unfunded mandates are a hardship, and there aren't enough
inspectors to enforce the current regulations). Industry responds to consumer
demands. Trouble is, nobody cares all that much about cattle, pigs, or unsafe
Here's an excerpt from a conference call made on August 19,2004 between
executives of the Digital Angel corporation (pet and farm animal tracking,
division of ADS) and reporters.
<Q Â– David Talbot>: All sorts of questions to around this. What about tracking
swine? What about private sector initiatives? Private-sector spending? Big
packing houses? Or whatever that are not going to wait for the government and
might jump ahead? And then lastly, if that isn't enough, you alluded to markets
in Europe opening up. Could you elaborate on that?
<A Â– Kevin McGrath>: Okay. Let me first talk about the US government. The
projects Â– this set of pilot projects included both beef and swine. It turns
out that the projects for swine and beef were very different because of the
nature of the way the animals live, but several of the projects are swine
projects and several of the projects are beef projects. Now, with regard to
large food producers Â– we actually have pilots now and have had pilots for
probably more than a year with several of the large producers, and unfortunately
we're not able unilaterally to publicize who those are, but I think at some
point down the road they will be publicized and, you know, at least from our
perspective our interaction with them is very positive, and they seemed very
pleased with what's going on.
The third question was?
<Q Â– David Talbot>: Europe.
<A Â– Kevin McGrath>: That was the fourth question, I thought, but with regard to
Europe, we are actively looking for ways to participate in the European market.
We do have livestock participation and companion pet participation now. We
participate in Europe in the companion pet side with Merial, which is a joint
venture of Merck and Aventis. And we do participate in a livestock market. The
livestock market actually in Europe is a larger market than the United States,
and there was already a mandatory requirement for tagging. By 2007/2008, it is
expected that virtually all of that tagging with migrate from visual tags to
electronic tags. There are 100,000,000 cattle in Europe. In every year, there
are approximately 150,000,000 pigs slaughtered, and there are approximately 200
million sheep and goats. So, it's a very, very large market. We also have a
multi-hundred million dollar market Â– or multi-hundred million animal market in
South America, between Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Chile. So,
again, big markets, that actually are larger than in the United States. I know
that the last thing that I was going to mention to you. The Department of
Agriculture has also come out, in the last few weeks, out of the Denver office
of AFIS, with an RFI, you know, Request for Information, regarding an animal ID
tracking system for sheeps and goats. So, I Â– the Â– I think, David, you focused
on one of the critical issues. We tend to talk about the national ID program as
being merely for cattle, and it is not. It is a livestock system in the United
States, which really will include cattle, swine, sheep, goats and poultry. Now,
I think the implementation of the tagging systems will be significantly
different for each of those markets, but each of the markets themselves could be
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