Monday, June 21, 2004

Authors Boycott Scientific Journal

Authors of articles for a special edition of an international scientific journal, Clinics in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. have decided to withdraw their articles after the journal publisher, Elsevier, announced that it would block an article claiming that large numbers of IBM workers have died prematurely of cancers and other diseases due to their exposures at IBM facilities.
Dr Joe LaDou, of the University of California at San Francisco, who tried to publish the paper, said the study was an important work that reveals the serious health risks facing workers in the computing industry. He has bitterly attacked the decision to block the paper and has been backed by all other contributors to Clinics in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. They have demanded that all their papers for that issue be withdrawn until the publisher relents.

'By standing together we can bring attention to the heavy-handed tactics that industry employs to prevent the publication of important scientific discovery,' he said.
I have written previously (here, here and here) about trials of former IBM employees which sought to prove that the computer company was responsible for their diseases.

As a result of the lawsuits, IBM was forced to turn over its employee mortality records which were analyzed by Richard Clapp, of Boston University, and his colleague Rebecca Johnson. The judge would not allow their study to be admitted as evidence in the trial, which IBM won, but La Dou invited them to submit it for publication.
Their analysis showed IBM employees suffered significantly more deaths from several kinds of cancer than would be expected from the general population. This trend was particularly strong for workers at IBM's chip-manufacturing plants, the current issue of Nature reveals.