Retailers Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Inc. and technology gurus IBM Corp. and Tsinghua University have kicked off a collaboration to track food information and enhance food safety in China using blockchain technology. The four have established the Blockchain Food Safety Alliance, which allows companies to share information that is then stored by blockchain — encouraging accountability and giving suppliers, regulators and consumers greater insight and transparency into how food is handled from the farm to the table…Full Article: Caixin Global Dec 2017

Key Point

  • Beijing’s Tsinghua University will act as a technical advisor on China’s food safety system while IBM will host the project on its IBM Blockchain Platform. At the same time, both institutions will team up with Walmart and JD to develop and implement blockchain technology for any suppliers and retailers who wish to join the group.

ChinaAg Comments

  • In 2016, Walmart, IBM, and Tsinghua University began a pilot project to utilize blockchain technology on Walmart’s pork supply chain in China. The blockchain stored data relating to farm origin, its farm inspection report, livestock quarantine certificate, expiration dates, storage temperatures, and logistics.
  • A blockchain is an online (distributed) ledger that utilizes digital blocks to store data. Each individual block contains data, a cryptographic hash (i.e. a unique line of code specific to that block), and the hash of the previous block that acts as the proverbial link in the chain of blocks. The blockchain is not stored in a centralized location, but instead stored across a network of computers meaning the data cannot be easily destroyed or corrupted. This peer-to-peer (P2P) network ensures that no single hack or corrupted block takes over the system since any change would have to be validated by more than 50% of the P2P network. In addition, the construction of new blocks require “proof-of-work” which typically takes a few minutes. This proof of work mitigates against data fraud since the entire blockchain would have to re-worked (thousands of blocks) in order for the hashes to match and link up.

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