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Call it Argentina’s CSI: Cows

Reuters

Cattle-rustling is an age-old problem on Argentina’s legendary Pampas plains, but genetic testing is helping police crack down on thieves.

Argentina, one of the world’s top beef exporters, is famous for its free-range beef from grass-fed cattle. Experts say lax controls and the sheer scale of some ranches make life easy for rustlers.

However, plans are underway to expand a pioneering database of genetic samples from 10,000 cattle that has helped police solve 270 cases of cattle-rustling since it was established in Buenos Aires province seven years ago.

Steaks or sausages suspected of coming from stolen animals can be used as a source of DNA to cross-reference with the samples of hair, blood or flesh kept in the cattle database, which is managed by the state-run Genetic Veterinary Institute, also known as Igevet.

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Before the database was set up, it was difficult for police to prove rustling, even when they had identified suspects.

“The police always knew who it was . . . but there was no evidence that could prove it,” said Pilar Peral Garcia, director of Igevet, which is based in La Plata, capital of Buenos Aires province.


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