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27 Dec 2012: Group Collecting DNA Codes
Of Endangered Species Gets Google Boost

The Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL), a global initiative assembling the “DNA barcodes” of the world’s endangered species, received $3 million from Google this month to create an online database organizers hope will emerge as a critical tool in the enforcement of international wildlife protection laws. Since it was formed in 2004, the consortium’s 200 participating organizations have collected genetic information for more than 100,000 species. With tens of thousands of species currently in danger of extinction, project organizers hope the database will provide a quick and inexpensive way to identify species, including many that are regularly smuggled through airports. In some cases, law enforcement officials would be able to send a small tissue sample to a laboratory for identification rather than requiring an expert to identify the species. The consortium plans to partner with six developing countries — including South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Mexico, Brazil, and an undetermined country in Southeast Asia — and work with their respective legal systems to figure out what types of data would work as evidence to prosecute smugglers. Google is supporting the project through its new Global Impact Awards, which fund nonprofit organizations that use technology and innovation to try to solve pressing problems.
— Aliyya Swaby


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