An enterprising reporter at the Associated Press managed to make news out of three aging and obscure studies, involving RFID chips implanted in animals, that mentioned increased occurrence of tumors. Two were written a decade ago, and one just last year. The AP is wondering whether these studies should have prevented FDA approval of RFID implants in humans, and if so, how could the findings have been ignored.
“Published in veterinary and toxicology journals between 1996 and 2006, the studies found that lab mice and rats injected with microchips sometimes developed subcutaneous “sarcomas” – malignant tumors, most of them encasing the implants.
* A 1998 study in Ridgefield, Conn., of 177 mice reported cancer incidence to be slightly higher than 10 percent – a result the researchers described as “surprising.”
* A 2006 study in France detected tumors in 4.1 percent of 1,260 microchipped mice. This was one of six studies in which the scientists did not set out to find microchip-induced cancer but noticed the growths incidentally. They were testing compounds on behalf of chemical and pharmaceutical companies; but they ruled out the compounds as the tumors’ cause. Because researchers only noted the most obvious tumors, the French study said, “These incidences may therefore slightly underestimate the true occurrence” of cancer.
* In 1997, a study in Germany found cancers in 1 percent of 4,279 chipped mice. The tumors “are clearly due to the implanted microchips,” the authors wrote.
Caveats accompanied the findings. “Blind leaps from the detection of tumors to the prediction of human health risk should be avoided,” one study cautioned. Also, because none of the studies had a control group of animals that did not get chips, the normal rate of tumors cannot be determined and compared to the rate with chips implanted. “