Could Cash Soon be Infused with E. Coli?

A new development by scientists producing a new strain of E. Coli could ultimately lead to the bacteria being used in the production of a number of items to reduce counterfeiting.  The incredible discovery by scientists has more than a few furrowing their brows, however, as the possibility of using E. Coli to verify everything from ball game tickets to cash shipments is soon to be put forward.

The research, unearthed by Professor David Walt of Tufts University is said to be safe as the strains of E. Coli are not actually the more dangerous strains we’re used to hearing about tainting food.  The safe E. Coli strains are genetically modified to relect a certain color when under a specific wavelength of light.  These colors are then translated into a message that can be read by anyone with the appropriate cipher.  And that cipher, unlike previous codes which can be cracked through analysis will actually be a reactive substance such as an antibiotic or other strain of E. Coli.  In the end, the code can actually have multiple messages depending on the code’s use and the key the receiver has in the form of a reactive chemical.

Interestingly enough, the code may actually have a number of uses in the field of counterfeit verification.  Piracy and counterfeiting have always been an issure since time immemorial.  And throughout history a considerable amount of attention has been given to making sure these counterfeits are not mistaken for the genuine article.  These have been included in a number of fields not limited merely to currencies and certifications.  If the method were perfected, it may even be seen on currency.  And if that sounds like a less than desirable outcome, you may be surprised to learn that E. coli is becoming a widespread staple of newly formed technologies.

One of the most incredible breakthroughs being made with this unlikely bacterial strain is the creation of biofuels for combustible engines.  With increased demand and dwindling supplies for automobiles, alternative means of renewable fuel source production are being thoroughly searched.  And scientists have found an unlikely ally in the form of a bacteria normally only seen in headlines for causing outbreaks of illness when it makes its way into our food supply.

And of course that is the question that more people are asking – is it safe to use bacteria like E. Coli?  For now scientists say yes, but it may take some time to remove the bogeyman-like mask from this unlikely ally on our trek into the future.  And it is not a visage that is not well earned.  A survey between 1982 and 2002 by the CDC shows that E. Coli O157:H7 causes approximately 73,000 illnesses requiring hospitalization in the United States each year – the majority of which come from food where it is most commonly in contact with people at the moment.  The strain being used for these other experiments will be a different strain inevitably.