Fluorescent label used to spot real seeds

Indian farmer sowing seedsChinese researchers have developed a fluorescent labelling method to differentiate genuine and fake seeds.

Counterfeiters have taken advantage of the pelleting process used on small seeds, like tobacco, to introduce fakes into the supply chain. Pelleted seeds are bigger, rounder, smoother and more uniformly sized, making them suitable for mechanical planting, but also less distinct from fakes.

Academics now want to close this entry point to fake seeds by adding a fluorescent compound during pelleting. Research published in Industrial Crops and Products suggests the method is an effective way of identifying real tobacco seeds without affecting germination.

"Fluorescein, a nontoxic fluorescent dye, could be used as an effective anti-counterfeiting label to rapidly and easily distinguishing true (treated) seed from fake (untreated) seed," the researchers wrote.

The trial was limited to tobacco seeds so further research is needed to assess the viability of the method for other crops. It is possible other seeds will lack the uptake pathways that allowed the labelling to spread through tobacco.

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