Using Plant DNA to Prevent Counterfeit Parts

The Pentagon has invested in new DNA technology that promises to help identify counterfeit spare parts, according to Popular Mechanics. The process, developed by Applied DNA Sciences, uses the unique coding of plant DNA to mark authentic spare parts and distinguish them from fakes that would threaten the safety of US military operations. The DNA is mixed with epoxy ink, sprayed on the part, and sealed with a heating process. This method of identification can be used on parts as small as microchips or bolts without affecting their performance, and doesn’t wear off after repeated use. After application, the part can be scanned by the user to check the history of the part and ensure its authenticity. In 2014, the Office of the Secretary of Defense gave Applied DNA Sciences a Rapid Innovation Fund award to develop the technology more quickly. So far, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has marked 150,000 microcircuits using the DNA process. There’s still plenty of work to be done, however. A 2011 congressional probe found that of the four million spare parts overseen by the DLA, as many as one million could be counterfeit, reported The Washington Post at the time.