b'Louis de BruinT he outbreak of food-borne diseases, false labelling, and food fraud issues are just some of the various problems that the agriculture industry is facing today. Some say that blockchain can change all of this. This new technology reveals where the food is originated, who planted it, and how fresh it is. In a recent presentation at the Euroseeds Annual Meeting in Stockholm, Louis de Bruin, Blockchain Thought Leader at IBM provided his take on the possibilities and benefits of blockchain for the food chain.De Bruin explained what blockchain actually is, adding that when people hear about blockchain, most people think about bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and enormous computer centres. But he also underlined that it is much more than that. The principle of blockchain is that you have a common ledger, and together with other partners in the chain, the parties decide what is true and what isnt. That means that you no longer need somebody in the middle, who is in a position of power to keep track of things, e.g. like a bank. With blockchain, everything is noted from start to finish. Blockchain is a ledger that the involved parties all use to gain consensus about something. And Bitcoin, which came around in 2009, is very similar to this; it is thousands of comput-ers working together and keeping check on each other. BUSINESS TRANSACTIONSIf a transaction takes place, a transaction is transmitted through-out the network and everybody checks that they have the same copy of the ledger as their neighbour. And even without a central party, parties can still know that everybody is having the right version of the truth. To provide further clarification, De Bruin asked to imagine starting with a typical business network where INCREASING there are a large number of parties that take part in a transaction. There are sellers, buyers, transporters, banks, insurance companies, etc. It is not unusual to have one hundred or more TRUST parties involved for one transaction. And many of these systems are totally decentralized. But to know more about the transaction, each party has to talk to someone else all the time. Everybody checks some-thing with somebody else, e.g. if a certain invoice has been paid, whether the goods have been transported, whether it has been insured, whether the port authorities have been informed, etc. HOW BLOCKCHAIN CONTRIBUTES TO ANIn an imaginative business transaction with 100 parties, EFFICIENT AND BETTER FOOD ECOSYSTEM. this would lead to 100x99 interactions, so close to 10,000 inter-BY: MARCEL BRUINS actions. In practice, it would not be that high, but one could easily talk about thousands of interactions for one transaction. Nowadays, this all happens through email, and automatic data interchange, but this can give all sorts of problems, e.g. some-thing breaks down, or fraud, and you often need middlemen to take care of that. This is a major and growing issue. There is a lot of information interchange, and the global market is only growing, so there will be more of such challenges. With a blockchain tool the situation changes, because of the shared ledger as explained above. Parties will still experi-ence exactly the same business network, but not everybody is exchanging data with each other, but everybody is exchanging data through the blockchain. Going back to the example of hun-dred parties, there would only be 100 interactions, instead of sev-eral thousands. And this means a huge simplification of exchange. It is the computers that keep each other in check and ensure that all parties have the same consensus about what the truth of the ledger is. And to do that so called smart contracts are needed which are run on the blockchain. But these are also dis-tributed, and there is not one central party which is doing that. A consensus mechanism is still needed, and in the blockchain approach, that is a mathematical system that creates such a mechanism through calculations. 24IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM'