Cell phone-based system to track products

The farm ministry will begin creating a system in fiscal 2005 that will enable consumers to trace the history of tagged farm products by scanning them with their mobile phones, ministry officials said Wednesday.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry plans to complete the system, which will cover about half of all agricultural products, in three years, according to the officials.

Small integrated-circuit tags will be attached to agricultural products. Consumers will be able to read information stored on the chips, such as data on agricultural chemicals used and shipment dates, by using mobile-phone handsets equipped with a chip-reading function.

The ministry also plans to use advanced bar codes capable of storing up to several hundred times more information than existing bar codes.

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