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Information-rich animals

November 2, 2009

Iris scanning has been proposed for horse by a company called Global Animal Management (GAM) Inc. As bloodstock is a huge and lucrative business – feeding everything from the private obsessions of the super-rich through the horseracing industry to the dreams of teenage horse-enthusiasts – it is not surprising to see such investment in biometrics. Racehorses were, after all, the first living creatures to be regularly microchipped. Vets seem sceptical about the idea, but surely members of the medical profession would be more enthusiastic about non-invasive replacements for invasive identification techniques like RFID?

Ironically, support for the scepticism comes form GAM’s own website, where a very interesting short video shows just how comprehensive the surveillance of animals through RFID chips has become. RFID chips do not just identify, they carry whole life-cycle information on origins, movements, health and disease and legal compliances. And because of the chips this information is carried with the animal not simply associated with it via a distant database as the result of an occasional scan. The system creates what GAM calls ‘information-rich animals’, which presumably is what makes GAM – and it hopes, its customers – cash-rich too…

(thanks to Aaron Martin, whose reading now seems to include Horse and Hound magazine…)

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