“Serious Flaws” Found in Journal Standards, Document Review Shows

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News Release

For Immediate Release: Friday, June 8, 2018                          

For More Information Contact:
Carey Gillam, USRTK Research Director (913) 526-6190 or carey@usrtk.org
Sheldon Krimsky, Tufts University Professor 617-866-3100 or Sheldon.Krimsky@tufts.edu

When vital public health research reports are published in refereed journals, there is a heightened expectation that they meet professional standards of scientific integrity. But a new paper published in the Journal of Public Health Policy finds that those standards have been egregiously and intentionally violated with respect to papers dealing with a popular pesticide.

The paper is authored by Sheldon Krimsky (PhD), the Lenore Stern Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences in the Department of Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning at Tufts University, and author of Science in the Private Interest, and Carey Gillam, Research Director of U.S. Right to Know and author of Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science. 

The paper reviews court-released discovery documents obtained from litigation against Monsanto Co. over its herbicide Roundup and documents released through Freedom of Information Act requests (requests to regulatory agencies and public universities in the United States). The findings include evidence of ghostwriting, interference in journal publication, and undue influence of a federal regulatory agency.

Journals are the gatekeepers of reliable evidence and credible knowledge. They must set the highest standards of scientific integrity. Journal editors must never manifest a bias to some individual or organization. When a journal learns that an article has been ghost written or that there were undisclosed conflicts of interest, it has an obligation to act appropriately and inform readers. The new paper makes the case that two journals, Critical Reviews of Toxicology and Food and Chemical Toxicology, did not measure up to these standards. The documents signal serious flaws in the ethics of scientific publication and regulatory processes that must be addressed.

U.S. Right to Know is a nonprofit organization that works to advance transparency and accountability in the nation’s food system. For more information about U.S. Right to Know, please see usrtk.org.

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