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10 Jan 12. Counterfeit electronics are flooding the U.S. military supply chain. To deal with the crisis, after a heated Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on November 8th, the Senate approved an amendment that requires large defense contractors to establish systems for detecting and avoiding counterfeit parts, and it authorizes reductions in contract payments to contractors who fail to do so. The hearing had identified specific missile systems, aircraft, and combat support systems that have been infiltrated by counterfeit parts. The so-called Levin-McCain amendment is the toughest legal measure against counterfeiting of critical electronic parts in recent memory. It includes new provisions that require contractors for the first time to absorb the costs of fixing the problem when counterfeit parts are discovered, rather than deferring such costs to the Defense Department.

The Secretary of Homeland Security is now required to establish enhanced inspection of electronic parts, and the DoD is required to adopt policies and procedures for detecting and avoiding counterfeit parts in its direct purchases, and for assessing and acting on reports of counterfeits. Finally, military officials and contractors who learn of counterfeit parts in the supply chain are required to provide written notification to the contracting officer, the Department of Defense Inspector General and to the Government-Industry Data Exchange Program.

Applied DNA Sciences is already engaged in piloting the only anti-counterfeiting technology currently funded by the Defense Logistics Agency, the agency that manages the military supply chain. The company’s patented and proprietary technology, called SigNature® DNA, uses a botanical mark—namely, plant DNA—to authenticate products in a unique manner that essentially cannot be copied, and provide a forensic chain of evidence that can be used to prosecute perpetrators. The system uses real DNA and can be individualized to provide a DNA profile, per application, that is as unique and fool proof in verification as individual human DNA. The company’s system can mark microchips or any other product with uncopyable DNA codes, which can then be used to authenticate the originality of chips or products anywhere along the supply chain. The company’s technology can “enhance inspection” and forensically verify originality. DNA from plants is used to create taggants to mark the product in a unique way; for example, the DNA can be added to ink that is used to print lot code. At any node in the supply chain, a chip may be tested for the presence of the DNA marker, which can then be submitted for forensic tests to determine originality.

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