Reed Elsevier, the publisher of The Lancet, has today been condemned by a former editor of the British Medical Journal for its involvement in the promotion of arms sales.
Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Richard Smith urges scientists and academics to publish their research and findings elsewhere.
“Reed Elsevier is one of the world’s largest publishers of scientific and medical journals and the finest of its journals is the Lancet, the leading global health journal,” said Dr Smith.
“Indeed, The Lancet has been receiving much attention from the Pentagon for its important articles showing that death rates in Iraq are far above those admitted by the United States government and yet its publishers promote arms fairs.
“The blatant hypocrisy doesn’t end there either. Reed Elsevier runs arms fairs through its subsidiary Reed Exhibitions in Britain, the United States, the Middle East, Brazil, Germany, and Taiwan which is the same subsidiary that runs Lancet conferences, including the forthcoming one in Asia.”
Dr Smith describes how The Lancet itself has: “told us how the fairs have in the past included cluster bombs, which are especially dangerous to civilians because they fail to explode and create minefields. Last year’s fair in the US included torture equipment sold by Security Equipment Corporation who use the grotesque slogan ‘Making grown men cry since 1975’.”
Dr Smith argues the best way of appealing to Reed Elsevier is by threatening its business. He writes:
“What might be the actions of the editors, authors, and readers of not only The Lancet but also the other 2000 medical and scientific journals published by Reed Elsevier? Alone they might achieve little, but together they might force the company to change, not by appealing to its non-existent conscience but through threatening its business.
There has been a long-term struggle between the editors and the corporate owners, but serious conflicts of interest appear unavoidable.