BRAVE NEW WORLD
What the FDA Wonít Tell You about
By Dale Hurd
CBN News Sr.
(CBN News) - A little electronic capsule, smaller than a
dime, could be one of the biggest technological advances in how we
share and store private medical records. It may also be one of the
Known as the VeriChip, it is a microchip that is implanted under
a person's skin, and then scanned with a special reader device to
reveal important medical data about that person.
Applied Digital, the Florida-based company that makes the
VeriChip, hopes the implant will revolutionize how doctors obtain
medical information, particularly in emergency situations.
Theoretically, if a person can't speak, medics could scan that
person and quickly be linked to a database that would provide
crucial information like the patient's identity, blood type and drug
Dr. Csaba Magassi, a plastic surgeon in Northern Virginia, is
among a nationwide network of doctors who are ready and waiting to
implant the VeriChip into willing patients. His office receives
calls daily from people inquiring about the chip.
Dr. Magassi said, "If you are in an auto accident, [and] you are
unconscious, they could scan you, know exactly who you are; your
medical history can easily be printed out onto the hospital
Dr. Magassi added, "If a patient comes in requesting the
VeriChip, I usually tell them it takes between two and five minutes
to place the device in place. A needle which contains the VeriChip
is inserted. The needle pushes the device through, and it is
implanted permanently. Put a bandaid on and you are done."
Dr. Magassi demonstrated the procedure for CBN News on an apple.
Once the microchip was inserted, the hand-held scanner read the
number on the chip using radio frequency waves. Think of it as a
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the VeriChip
implant for medical use in humans in October, a huge victory for
In an effort to jumpstart interest, the company launched the "Get
Chipped" campaign. It is offering a discount to the first few
hundred people who get the implant, and also plans to donate
hundreds of scanners to the nation's trauma units to promote use of
But in a letter obtained by CBN News from the
FDA to the VeriChip makers, the microchip is not completely safe. In
fact, the letter lists a whole host of health risks associated with
the device, including "adverse tissue reaction," "electrical
hazards" and "MRI incompatibility."
Applied Digital and the Food and Drug Administration refused our
requests for an interview to discuss these risks.
Consumer privacy advocate Katherine Albrecht said, "There are
millions of people that have read the press reports about all the
positives of this technology, but really have no idea about its
Albrecht strongly opposes the VeriChip for the physical risks it
poses, as well as the privacy risks. She has been called "the Erin
Brokovich of RFID chips."
On her Web site, www.spychips.com, Albrecht reveals the potential
dangers of the VeriChip and other radio frequency identification
Albrecht said, "There's a very serious concern that, already,
engineers and people who think along those lines are already
thinking like hackers and criminals -- they're already starting to
say, how can this system be compromised, how can it be abused? When
you are dealing with a radio frequency device, by design, it is
transmitting info using invisible radio waves at a distance. In this
case, that distance is only a couple of inches or a couple of feet
so itís not a huge distance, but it means that anyone who can get
within a couple of inches or a few feet of you, even with a reader
device they have hidden in a backpack or a purse, would be able to
scan that number, obtain that info and potentially duplicate
And it is not just private medical information at stake. The
microchip implant technology has been around for several years now,
and has been used for a variety of different applications.
Thousands of chips have been implanted in pets by veterinarians
for identification purposes. Livestock is now chipped to track
things like mad-cow disease. Manufacturers are putting chips in
products like clothing and shoes for marketing research.
In Mexico, the attorney general and his top aides were chipped
for security purposes. And, in Spain at the Baja Beach Club, patrons
can get a microchip with their financial information implanted, so
they can pay for their cocktails with a swipe of the arm. As these
pictures seem to suggest, getting chipped is fun and painless.
Applied Digital also launched a brand new application for the
chip last year called the "VeriPay." This implant would hold all of
a person's financial information. Rather than swipe a card or pay
cash, consumers would scan their wrists for purchases. And, if a
swipe of the wrist becomes too troublesome, there are already
prototypes made of doorway portals that can simply scan a person and
their purchases as they walk through the door.
Allbrecht said, "I think there is a very real concern that, down
the road, such a chip would become mandatory. And not necessarily
initially, but it would be voluntary, in the same way letís say as
credit cards or a drivers license is voluntary. No one forces you to
have a driverís license or to have a cell phone, but yet the vast
majority of people do, because it is very difficult to function in a
normal society without it."
For now, though, a microchip implant is voluntary. Only a few
thousand chips have been sold and only a fraction of those have been
implanted in humans.
For someone who wants an implant for medical purposes, Dr.
Magassi and others are standing by. Magassi says, "If they want it,
God love Ďem. I'll put it in. It's as simple as that."
The VeriChip just recently made its debut in a Miami, Florida
nightclub, where patrons had the opportunity to "Get Chipped," much
like the Baja Beach club patrons in Spain.
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