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Orchid, Partners Go Whole-Hog on DNA-Based Pork Traceability Testing

NEW YORK, Jan. 27 (GenomeWeb News) - Orchid BioSciences, Pyxis Genomics, Maple Leaf Foods, and IBM said today that they are launching a large-scale DNA-based pork traceability program in Canada.

Orchid said it would be the exclusive provider of DNA-based assays for the program, which is a joint venture between Toronto-based pork producer Maple Leaf Foods and Pyxis Genomics of Chicago.

The program is designed to enable Canadian pork marketed anywhere in the world to be traced back to the maternal sow at the farm where the meat originated. Pyxis Genomics will provide marker identification for the program, and IBM will create and manage a database and search engine that will allow users to match DNA from a piece of meat to the maternal sow. Orchid will develop assays using a panel of SNPs identified by Pyxis, and will conduct high-throughput genotyping services for the program.

Orchid already offers susceptibility testing for scrapie in sheep, and first signaled its interest in the DNA-based food traceability market in December. 

Paul Kelly, CEO of Orchid, said that the recent appearance of mad cow disease in North America and "ongoing issues with possible meat contamination" represent "an important high-growth commercial opportunity for Orchid that we are well-equipped to address."

Maple Leaf Foods, which employs more than 18,000 people globally and had sales of $5.1 billion in 2002, said it plans to launch the pork traceability program in its own farms this spring. The company plans to provide fully traceable pork products to the Japanese market by the fourth quarter of 2004.

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