You might not want to chip granny afterall. Studies on animals discovered high incidents of tumours close to the sites of RFID chip implants.
The findings from studies dating from the 1990s up to last year suggesting implanted chips "induced" malignant tumors in some lab mice and rats are by no means conclusive (even in the case of animals), but raise serious question marks about the FDA's decision to approve the implantation of RFID chips, a decision that gave the go-ahead to controversial human chipping firm VeriChip in 2005.
The studies, which would likely have lain on the shelf gathering dust had they not been unearthed by AP, have reignited the debate about the technology.
Cancer specialists who reviewed the research for AP backed a call for further research before RFID transponders become widely used. Some said they would oppose plans by any family members to receive implants.
Almost 2,000 glass-encased RFID transponders have been implanted in humans worldwide, according to figures from VeriChip. The firm maintains that its technology is safe. VeriChip said that other studies have concluded that microchip implants do not trigger malignant tumors in animals. It also argues that millions of cats and dogs have "safely received" a similar microchip to the type it uses over the past 15 years.
Nonetheless critics have been quick to seize on the research as a reason for would-be punters to avoid implanted RFID chips like the plague. Dr. Katherine Albrecht, founder and director of Caspian Consumer Privacy, an anti-chipping campaigner who has campaigned against the technology for years said that "this kind of negative publicity spells the beginning of the end for VeriChip and their plans to chip us all like barcoded packages of meat". ®