Friday, February 22, 2013

SCM Technology on the Ground to the Plate . . . Next?

Up until very recently, most of us would have confidently thought that we've never eaten horse meat. However after thinking about the cornucopia of processed products we may or may not have consumed - can you be sure. This has brought a lot of uncertainty about what's in the products we consume. The concern goes beyond the limits of where it's sourced . . . like who made it . . .  but what is it? If products contain extraneous stuffs, what other stragglers might be lingering? Searching this thought brought me to  blog post about IBM's Technology for food production.

It was interesting to think of supply chain technology in the context of food production because of the immense change and level of what's at stake. Food production has gone from providing for neighboring towns and merchants to direct distribution to the world.

On one hand there are challenges created by over demand as seen in Bolivian quinoa. Then, there are others challenges from highly efficient commercial producers that become convoluted with the amount of blended products and suppliers.  

Implementation of technology helps in both of these situations. For example, IBM systems are implementing RFID technology to track and trace meat products from the farm through the supply chain right into supermarket shelves. So not only does the technology help to produce optimal amounts while minimizing resource inputs like water and fertilizer, the availability of information should increase food producers' accountability and ability to make more perfect information. Additionally, this technology is being implemented with innovations in computational biology to develop genetic maps. These maps identify genetic traits that maximize production and minimize costs of disease and external factors like drought or pests.

I'm interested in seeing how implementation of wide scale supply chain management will affect food production when combined with the exponential power of the World Community Grids. As we head down a path of knowing everything we can know  about the things we want to know . . . how much better prepared are we to make decisions about genetics and the evolution of food and the world around us? In balancing demands for efficiency, it becomes easy to ignore the multi-dimensional impacts of our decisions that go beyond getting fed.

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