ISO 11784/85 Update - WG3 meeting in Stockholm

According to the agenda for the WG3 meeting in Stockholm, the Working Group was slated to review the current status of ISO standard 11784/85.

Mr. Wim Wissmans, the current Chairman, has taken it upon himself to declare the standard to be a success and fully accepted by all user communities.

The representative of Gosstandart, the Russian Standards Institut, Mr. Anisimov has stated in brief the problems facing Russian agriculture, and the need for RFID technology to track livestock that will be imported to upgrade the indigenous stock. According to the Russian representative, unique ID numbers are of paramount concern, in order to preclude fraud.

Gosstandart fully supports the idea of an international standard for RFID. However, the representative stated that the present ISO 11784/85 standard falls short of their national requirements, as ISO 11784/85 is a transponder-based, open standard. He stated that the country and manufacturer codes stipulated in the standard are of no use in ensuring unique ID codes and that ISO 11784/85 must be modified to ensure that ID codes are unique. He also stated that the presence of duplicate ID numbers in the market would jeopardize the integrity of any national database. He also expressed concern with the complexity of the standard, which encompasses the mutually incompatible FDX and HDX technologies, as this makes the readers unnecessarily expensive and limits their performance. He recommended that the standard stipulate either HDX or FDX, but not both. Similarly, he indicated that separate standards for livestock and companion animals would be appropriate.

The Russian delegate referred to a demonstration of ISO 11784/85 standard compliant transponders where duplicate code numbers had been programmed, which he termed "shocking."

Gosstandart registered a strong plea that ISO 11784/85 be returned to WG3 for speedy modification.

An offer was made by the Trovan representative to demonstrate the re-programming of ISO 11784/85-compatible transponders to WG3 members, either during or after the meeting. This offer was declined by the chairman, who stated that he had seen the technology demonstrated before. The transponders in question could be reprogrammed on the fly to different country code numbers and to any of the manufacturers' code numbers currently assigned by ICAR. This technology, which was not available at the inception of the standardisation process, is now commercially available.

Standards New Zealand representative Mr. Gary Burch, supported by a member of the Standards Australia working group IT28, questioned the ability of the standard to provide unique identification, which was deemed essential by both countries, especially in applications involving the international movement of animals, meat and animal products. The chairman responded that the ISO standard was never intended to deliver a guarantee of code uniqueness. A recent shipment of rams, which were previously embargoed, to Russia (also mentioned by the Russian delegate) was mentioned as a typical application. The country and/or manufacturer's codes stipulated in ISO 11784 were described as useless with respect to ensuring unique ID codes. Other top-priority issues for both countries' livestock industries were the reading speed and reading range of ISO 11784/85-compliant equipment; as well as backward compatibility.

Australia and New Zealand combined represent some 240,000,000 heads of livestock, approximately the same number as the EEC.

New Zealand moved to vote to have ISO 11784/85 returned to WG3 for modifications.

The chairman declared that he was not prepared to allow this motion by New Zealand, since WG3 has not been authorised by SC19 to review the standard.

The representative of Swedish Standards has repeatedly requested the group to deal with the request by Standards New Zealand to modify ISO 11784/85, referring to a communication by Mr. Abrams, Technical Director of ISO, advising that WG3 was to deal with this specific issue and to report back to SC19 on the outcome.

Mr. George Tucker, of the U.S. delegation, and Mr. Wissmans, the chairman, were of the opinion that the standard, once published, cannot be modified by WG3 without specific authorisation by SC19.

Nevertheless, the chairman decreed that he will not accept a verbal request from New Zealand and Russia to review the standard. However, he has agreed, upon the insistence of New Zealand and Russia, to accept written motions the next day, February 10. It was stated that such a motion, even if accepted, would not have any effect, since, according to the background presented by Mr. Tucker and Mr. Wissmans, a formal written request must be made by the organisation seeking a review of the standard prior to the meeting. Supposedly, the request by New Zealand was not expected by WG3, in spite of the letter by Mr. Abrams and the ISO Council ruling.

Accordingly, the next day on February 10, two motions were made, one each by New Zealand and Russia, and were rejected.

A poll of WG3 participants, some of which were not official national representatives, was taken to provide feedback on the success of ISO 11784/85 in these countries. The U.S. representative declared that there is no interest in the standard in the United States. The representative of the Spanish veterinary association, which by law represents all Spanish veterinarians, has submitted a letter to WG3 declaring that it has no desire to implement the standard in Spain. A visitor (private observer) from Brasil has mentioned a trial with 5,000 ea. ISO ear tags taking place in Brasil at this time. No activities were reported in Japan. Mr. Wissmans, for the Netherlands, has declared that the Dutch government has adopted the standard for all agricultural animals. Mr. Archie Sains, for the U.K., has informed the group that some other technologies may replace ISO 11784/85 if the issues of contention affecting the standard are not resolved promptly, and that the government's decision is expected shortly. Several other participants have declared that in their countries (Switzerland, Germany, Finland) the intention is to go with the standard. Nevertheless, 100 per cent, worldwide acceptance of ISO 11784/85 has been declared by the chairman.

Australia, New Zealand are reviewing ISO 11784/85 with respect to required modifications. When those modifications are clearly defined it is the intention to advise SC 19 of those changes. Russia has stated that it will submit its list of required modifications to ISO 11784/85 to SC 19, along with a request that the standard be adjusted accordingly.