Monday, January 23, 2012

The Arrival of Nanotech Medicine and What it Means for Health and Privacy

Brandon Turbeville
Activist Post
January 20, 2012
In yet another example of what was once called a conspiracy theory, but is now accepted as mainstream science, “edible microchips” are being officially rolled out for consumption by the general public.

Interestingly enough, it was only a few short years ago that anyone who mentioned a microchipped population via implantable, or
ingestible microchips was derided as paranoid and delusional. Now that the technology has been introduced, however, these individuals are no longer so easy to dismiss.

For instance, a recent article published by The Telegraph, “New ‘smart’ pill tells patients when drugs dose due,” describes how a new nano-sized microchip is being developed for mass consumption in the form of a pill. The microchip pill will be used to monitor the patient's vital signs as well as the metabolism of drugs prescribed by their doctor. This announcement heralds the full-fledged arrival of nanotechnology applications in medicine, and has wide-reaching implications.

The pill itself is described as no more than a “sugar pill.” However, it contains a “sensor” that “can monitor when drugs are taken, how much dosage should be administered, while at the same time monitoring a patient’s heart rate and body temperature,” as described by Andrew Hough of The Telegraph.

Hough continues by writing, “It also alerts a patient to when the next dose is due and records if they are getting enough sleep or exercise.”
The technology works by using nano-chips that have been ingested to monitor and record the details of medication, metabolism, and other vital signs which then transmit the data to a “receiver” patch attached to the patients’ arm. The patch can be worn for several days, meaning that the microchips should still be transmitting information for approximately that period of time.

The report also states that the edible microchips can transmit medical and biological information not only to the receiver patch worn by the patient, but to computers and smartphones “belonging to a relative, carer, or doctor.”

All of these developments raise fundamental concerns about privacy.  We are now confronted with a technology that can monitor not just our phone conversations and emails, or even just our biometric data, but our innermost biological processes. We have now entered into a time where, although many Americans still find it hard to believe that their government is capable of monitoring all email exchanges, there exists the very real capability to monitor something as private as our digestive systems and our personal health regimen.

One must wonder what the implications for this technology actually are, given the tendency toward control being exhibited by governmental, corporate, and medical institutions today. Indeed, diktats  issued by any one of these institutions usually takes immediate precedent over individual rights. Take, for example, governmental and medical vaccination programs where citizens are now being hounded by the police for making the logical decision not to be injected with poisonous chemicals. Ignoring, for a moment, the horror of the incidents themselves, the fact is that precedents are being set in these cases.

So the question remains:  Will medical microchips soon be included amongst the diktats of the white-coated priesthood known as the medical establishment? Will it soon become mandatory?

Indeed, one could easily envision a scenario in which patients are forced to ingest microchips as a condition of receiving controlled-substance pain medication. You know, to make sure the patient was not making a personal decision as to whether or not to abuse the medication. One could also see how nanochips could be forced on to Alzheimer’s patients or the elderly to prevent them from forgetting to take their medication.

Another question would be whether or not these chips could be accessed by external devices not necessarily associated with the stated programs with which they were justified initially. Obviously, the chips can be accessed by outside sources; the Telegraph report makes this clear when it states that the chips can transmit data to smartphones and computers. The question, however, is whether or not “authorized” devices are the only ones able to access the data.

Given the close relationship between government, corporations, and the medical establishment as a result of legislation such as the
PATRIOT Act, it is not unreasonable to assume that somewhere down the line another party other than you or your doctor will have access to this information.

One would also be justified in wondering just what these chips are capable of doing to the human body in terms of health. Indeed, in an article entitled “FDA sued over lack of Nanotech oversight, labels,” Rady Ananda sums up many of the health concerns related to consumption of nano-particles in general.

In what may be a surprising revelation to some, the adverse health effects related to the consumption of nano-particles are not unknown.  This is not only because of the numerous studies conducted regarding the risks involved in
nano-particle consumption, but also because humans are already consuming these particles in their food. Once again, new technology is being misused thanks to corporate control of the food supply, as well as regulatory agencies like the FDA who essentially exist for no other purpose than doing the bidding of the very corporations that exercise these monopolies. 

Although not all products utilizing nano-sized particles are harmful (colloidal silver, for instance), many of them are. As Ananda describes, studies have shown that consumption of nanoparticles through ingestion or inhalation can result in brain damage, lung dysfunction, and bioaccumulation. Nanoparticles have also been known to cross the placenta from the mother to the unborn child.

Furthermore, studies have confirmed that anything smaller than 100 nm can access all areas of the body due to its size, thus posing a threat to the body by virtue of its ability to penetrate the nucleus of cells. Penetrating cell nuclei, of course, gives these particles access to DNA.

Once nanoparticles, and now nanochips, have access to DNA structure, there should be very serious concern as to what the effects will be. We know that genes from genetically modified organisms can not only survive the digestion process, but cross over into normal DNA and change that normal DNA, causing a host of health effects. So the question then becomes: How will the human body react to such an invasion its DNA by a small, foreign substance?

In addition to the questions raised over health concerns, they may be secondary when compared to the concerns over privacy and personal sovereignty. Our society has gradually been moving further and further toward one of total surveillance and control over the general population. Any technology that is as invasive as edible microchips will no doubt move in tandem with that agenda as well.

This is not surprising due to the fact that it has been the military (or, more accurately, the military-industrial complex) that has funded research into nanotechnology for many years. As it stated in its 2007 report, “Defense Nanotechnology Research and Development Program, the Department of Defense has been involved in the research and development of nanotechnology since at least the 1980s working in concert with other agencies such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Office of Naval Research (ONR), Army Research Office (ARO), and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). Of course, anyone who has conducted even cursory research into the technological capabilities of major governments is aware that research into this type of technology was being conducted long before the 1980s. This means that the technology is actually far more advanced than what is currently being introduced to the general public.

That being said, the DOD report openly states that its research into nanotechnology revolves around “future war fighting: chemical and biological warfare defense; high performance materials for platforms and weapons; unprecedented information technology [like smart clothes]; revolutionary energy and energetic materials; and uninhabited vehicles and miniature satellites.”

See also the “National Nanotechnology Initiative Strategic Plan,” created by the National Science and Technology Council Committee on Technology, Subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology.

In addition a
RAND Corporation document written in 2003 entitled, “The Global Technology Revolution 2020, In-Depth Analyses,” mentioned just this kind of technology in the context of the current announcements by Lloydspharmacy and Proteus Biomedical, the two firms who are working together to market the new edible microchips. The RAND document actually describes the technology as “degradable polymeric microchips for time-release drug delivery, and highly selective and sensitive miniature chemical sensors.”

It is not surprising then, with RAND’s deep knowledge of the science and development of edible microchips as described above, that RAND itself may have some influence and connection to the process of the mass marketing of those chips.

Interestingly enough, David M. Lawrence, who sits on the Board of Directors of Proteus Biomedical, the California-based company who is partnering with Lloydspharmacy for distribution of the new edible microchip pills, is also a member of the RAND Health Advisory Board and a member of the Advisory Board for the RAND COMPARE study on national health reform.

In the end, the safety hazards alone should be enough to cause great concern amongst the general population in regards to the roll-out of this new technology. Combine the safety issue with that of the potential (and probable) abuse of microchips -- as well as even more sinister applications -- and citizens across the globe should start raising their voices now. We have already seen what happens when governments, corporations, and the medical establishment can and will do once they introduce a new and profitable technology or medication. We cannot allow ourselves to be put into a situation where force, policy, or coercion can determine whether or not we become the host for millions of microchips or the parasites that control them.

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