Traceability is increasingly becoming standard across the agri-food industry, largely driven by recent food crises and the consequent demands for transparency within the food chain. This is leading to the development of a range of traceability concepts and technologies adapted to different industry needs. Experience with genetically modified plants has shown that traceability can play a role in increasing public confidence in biotechnology, and might similarly help allay concerns relating to the development of animal biotechnology. Traceability also forms an essential component of any risk management strategy and is a key requirement for post-marketing surveillance. Given the diversity of traceability concepts and technologies available, consideration needs to be given to the scope and precision of traceability systems for animal biotechnology. 

Experience to date has shown that conventional tagging and labelling systems can incorporate levels of error and may not have sufficient precision for biotech-derived animals. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) technology can overcome these difficulties by tracing animals and animal by-products through their DNA code rather than an associated label. This offers the possibility of tracing some by-products of animal biotechnology through the supply chain back to source animals, offering unprecedented levels of traceability. Developments in both DNA sampling and analysis technology are making large-scale applications of DNA traceability increasingly cost effective and feasible, and are likely to lead to a broader uptake of DNA traceability concepts.