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Analyst calls for funded blockchain research in U.S.

FDA should commission a federal research study on blockchain vendors, solutions and investment options and provide guidance on how to leverage blockchain technology to improve food safety, ISG says


October 28, 2019
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STAMFORD, Conn. – The head of the blockchain advisory business at technology research and advisory firm Information Services Group (ISG) has called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to offer clear, practical guidance on designing blockchain programs to improve food safety.

Speaking at the FDA public meeting, “A New Era of Smarter Food Safety,” in Rockville, Maryland, Alex Manders said the FDA should commission a federal research study on blockchain vendors, solutions and investment options and provide guidance for enterprises across the food supply chain on how to leverage blockchain technology to improve food safety.

“I have found the primary challenges with blockchain technology adoption are non-technical,” Manders said.

“I believe the FDA has demonstrated leadership to address these challenges, and should consider an FDA-sanctioned blockchain research study designed to outline and assess technology and solution providers, software vendors, options for investment and collaboration, digital supply chains and change management methodologies – in part, to reduce paper-based records.”

Manders said the FDA guidance that would result from a blockchain research study would address the primary challenges to blockchain implementation in the food and beverage industry today.

“Based on my observations, the top challenges facing the food and beverage industry are incomplete awareness and understanding of blockchain technology vendors, solutions and business-to-business collaboration models; a lack of established industry and governance frameworks, and markets influenced by supply chain participants with a disproportionate pool of resources,” he said.

Noting the potential for blockchain to offer reliable and transformative transparency throughout the entire food supply chain, from growers to consumers, Manders also called for the FDA to consider appropriating funds or establishing grants for farmers, harvesters, distributors and retailers to implement distributed ledger technology and operating models.

While calling for federal research studies, Manders cautioned against over-regulating, noting, “We have seen an exciting explosion of new food, beverage and snack products in virtually every market category in the U.S. over the past five years. This innovation and competition give consumers more choices. New requirements may impede product innovation and could slow the adoption of real-world blockchain track-and-trace solutions comparable to Walmart’s ability to digitally see a supply chain journey from harvest to consumer.”