The Bio Chain is an R&D project whose purpose is to develop an advanced bio product traceability platform.
The platform is divided into three modules:
1. BioTrace: tool that allows you to check if a product is certified by an accredited certifying entity;
2. BioManager: tool that allows the registration of the entire production process and the transformation of products of Bio origin;
3. BioStats: tool that allows access to statistical information about products of Bio origin.
The platform is developed in Blockchain, which guarantees the security and reliability of information.
Traceability is, according to the international standard, (Regulation CE-178/2002, of the European Parliament, art3. 15) the ability to know the history, the use or the location of an article or an activity, through means of identification registered. In practice, it translates into the possibility of locating and identifying the product in each of its stages and is monitored through the data recorded throughout the entire production chain, until it is offered for sale.
For industrialists, it is the possibility to quickly find suspicious batches and reduce the impact of an eventual crisis. For consumers, it is the hope that, in the event of problems, dangerous products will be withdrawn from sale and information will be disseminated. It is also the only way to be sure of the origin of a product, the route that this product took from the origin to the final consumer, and also includes other certainties, such as the absence of elements that you do not want to consume, such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
To meet these objectives, a traceability system must:
• Include a minimum of obligations that must be respected by all elements of the chain (producers, industrialists, etc.);
• Be adapted to all stages of the chain, depending on the respective particularities;
• Compel the implementation of an identification and data recording system for each of the stages;
• Establish a link between the different elements. They, too, must ensure that their suppliers operate according to the same principles;
• Work as well downstream (so that we can move backwards in the chain), as well as upstream (producers must be able to identify which products were sold, to whom and when);
• Allow all information to be available, at any time;
• Offer the consumer the security of reliable information.
In short, everything is based on the transparency of information and the accountability of the different agents. Traceability is a food security tool, which contributes to greater transparency, and brings a better market value to the product by giving the consumer confidence in what he is consuming.
Current technology allows associating traceability to Blockchain-based software, as the best solution to achieve the stated objectives.
Blockchain can contribute to the final information of a product, absolute reliability in its transformation and origin processes. When applied to the agrifood chain, it allows access to digital data on food, which reinforces consumer confidence in the products they consume.
It is not necessary to argue the difficulty implicit in the unitary traceability of small things, but their grouping into lots by heritage of variety, origin or other specific characteristics, makes them traceable assets, consolidating the application of this technology in this sector.
Given this scenario, Blockchain technology is able to support the management of the production chain, transformation and distribution of agro-biological products.
Kamilaris et al. (2019) (1) discuss how Blockchain technology can be used to increase trust between different actors (eg, producers, distributors, traders) in the food production, transformation and distribution chain, ensuring quality products and avoiding fraud, the involvement of intermediaries and the increase in the final costs of the products concerned.
In addition, Blockchain technology allows product traceability throughout its production, transformation and distribution chain, offering all actors relevant information about the product, as well as the means to identify problem batches and where in the chain the problem occurred to quickly resolve the failures.
In the analysis made by Kamilaris et al. (2019) (1) on different initiatives that implement Blockchain technology, six categories are identified that aim to:
I) guaranteed access to food;
II) food security;
III) food integrity;
IV) support to small producers;
V) waste reduction and environmental awareness; and
VI) supervision and management of the production, transformation and distribution chain.
Taking this categorization into account, the Biochain project aims to guarantee the traceability of organic farming products, observing the safety and integrity (categories II and III) of the product and recognizing the importance of the producer through fair trade (category IV), through a management system of the inclusive production, transformation and distribution chain, which promotes the modernization of this agricultural sector, increasing trust between all the actors involved (category VI).
Pearson et al. (2019) (2) highlight the importance of Blockchain technology to ensure a closer relationship between the actors in a chain of production, transformation and distribution of agrifood products, with a view to efficient production, food security, legal compliance and global access to world food market. However, Pearson et al. (2019) (2) identify different challenges when implementing a Blockchain-based system, such as standardization of food domain data, technological and commercial barriers imposed by old and conservative processes, doubts about governance rules and processes with a view to sanctions applied to the actors, the technology's capacity to deal with large volumes of data, mechanisms to protect the privacy of users and the adoption of technology in its entirety.
The Biochain project aims to ensure the processes of the production, transformation and distribution chain of organic farming products taking into account the way in which the data of each actor is generated, observing a recognizable pattern among all the actors, and shared, respecting their respective privacy. at the same time that it discloses relevant information for building the immutable blocks for the Blockchain.
In addition, the Biochain project aims to overcome the various barriers through a co-creation approach to the proposed system that involves all actors in the chain from its conception. This will allow the Biochain system to be designed considering the concerns of the actors in order to incorporate mechanisms that mitigate their respective desires, highlighting the gains arising from the use of Blockchain technology in the organic farming sector, and encouraging the adoption of the proposed system.
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