Google Impact supports DNA Barcoding

Border inspectors and wildlife officials around the world look for endangered species  killed and trafficked in violation of national laws and international treaties.  Sometimes the objects are easily identified but many cannot be identified, even by expert taxonomists.  ‘Bushmeat’ is often trafficked as dried smoked meat removed from bones with diagnostic features.  Endangered plants might be exported as seeds or leaf cuttings, or as medicinal powders.  Articles of clothing and jewelry may have been tanned or dyed, making sure identification difficult.

In early December Google announced a new Global Impact Awards <http://www.google.com/giving/impact-awards.html> program to support organizations using technology and innovative approaches to solve some of the world’s toughest challenges.  A project at the Smithsonian Institution<http://www.google.com/giving/impact-awards.html#consortium> devoted to reducing illegal wildlife trafficking is among the first seven grant recipients.  A $3 million Global Impact Award will go to the Consortium for the Barcode of Life <http://www.barcodeoflife.org/content/about/what-cbol> (CBOL) to create a ‘DNA barcode’ reference library for approximately 2,000 endangered species and 8,000 species that are closely related to them or are commonly confused with them.   We are proud to have helped create CBOL in 2004 with the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and to have fostered this new phase of CBOL activity.