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Can China’s Food And Drug Safety Issues Be Solved By Blockchain

Can China’s Food And Drug Safety Issues Be Solved By Blockchain
A debate has been initiated in China about the possible use of blockchain, the underlying technology used for digital currencies like bitcoin, can be a solution safety issues of the country’s food and drugs. This after the revelation of a scandal in the Chinese pharmaceutical industry where a firm was found to have manipulated documents related to a rabies vaccine for babies.

Shenzhen-listed Changsheng Biotechnology had allegedly changed process parameters and equipment and had falsified production documents and product inspection records, claims the China Food and Drug Administration.  The police is currently investigating the company and members of its management.
The online communities are abuzz with suggestions that in order to restore public confidence in the health care system, the pharmaceutical industry should make use of blockchain technology.
The blockchain technology can help improve transparency, believes Li Xiaolai, who is amongst the best known virtual currency entrepreneurs in China and commands a follower base of 290,000 on the microblogging site Weibo.
“If the entire vaccine supply-chain was to use the token-free blockchain solution to record everything from start to finish, then most of the problems in drug safety could be solved,” Li said.
There was a surge of 10 per cent in the shares of a Shenzhen-listed software firm, YLZ Information Technology, after the firm was quoted in the Chinese media sating that the firm was seeking to find out wats that blockchain technology could be used for increasing safety of vaccines.
There are instances of the use of this technology in China where it is put to use to trace and track products in the entire food supply chain of food, starting from the farm and ending on the stores, with the help of scanning of quick-response codes. One such project is led by US tech giant IBM.
With the aim of enhancing the tracking, traceability and safety of food, the Blockchain Food Safety Alliance was set up by IBM, - the second largest e-retailer of China, US retailing giant Walmart and China’s Tsinghua University, in December. That effort has helped to enhance the transparency throughout the food supply chain in the country.
There have however been questions raised by some in the blockchain industry about the applicability of the technology in increasing food and drug safety.
A research report published by the research department at China’s largest social media and gaming firm, Tencent, claimed that there are some limitations to blockchain technology despite its strength in transparency. The report claimed that if and when someone intends to falsify records, fake data can still be carried ion blockchain. It is also necessary to educate the various parties involved in a blockchain because there are multiple parties on the blockchain
“Blockchains are slow and expensive,” said Leonhard Weese, president of the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong. “The amount of data that can be stored in them is minuscule.”

Christopher J. Mitchell

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