Industry bid to shut up dissenting academics

Academics sticking their heads above the parapet and raising health concerns about work hazards have always risked a career wrecking run-in with the mighty US business lobby. But in a new twist, it is not just the whistleblowers that should be fearful. The Chronicle of Higher Education has revealed a case where chemical companies are also going after the peer reviewers of critical academic publications. Lawyers representing more than 20 chemical companies, including many household names, have taken the unusual step of issuing subpoenas to five peer reviewers of a scholarly book as part of litigation over the alleged health risks of vinyl chloride, a widely used cancer-causing industrial chemical. At issue in the subpoenas to the publishers and reviewers is the book Deceit and denial: The deadly politics of industrial pollution, which was published in 2002 by the University of California Press and the Milbank Memorial Fund, a foundation dedicated to research on health policy.

Deceit and denial website. Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner, Deceit and denial, the deadly politics of industrial pollution, University of California Press, 2002. ISBN13: 9780520240636 (also see updated 2013 epilogue).

 

 

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  1. In Australia, the new government has chosen not to appoint a science minister. Tony Abbott, who once described man-made climate change as “absolute crap”, has already shut down the government’s climate commission and climate change authority. But at least Australians are fighting back: the climate commission has been reconvened as an NGO, funded by donations. In Britain we allowed the government to shut down the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and the Sustainable Development Commission with scarcely a groan of protest.

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