Free the Science!

A UCSF professor organizes a scientific boycott to protest apparent censorship of a study that suggests a link between working at IBM and dying of cancer

Clapp says he hired a lawyer specializing in sealed court documents, who determined that her client has the right to publish because IBM did not seal a deposition in the San Jose case referring extensively to the study.

"The issue for me is whether the information can be published anywhere," Clapp says. "It's now a court record. And it's a public document."

Clapp says he's been contacted by a half-dozen scientific journals other than Clinics that wish to publish his study. When he called for the boycott, LaDou said he would relent once it became clear Clapp's research would be published -- even if it were not in Clinics.

Adds LaDou: "If Elsevier wanted to do it, we would go ahead and get our articles out" with Clinics.

In the United States, companies such as IBM, which utilizes thousands of solvents and other chemicals believed to be carcinogenic in the manufacture of semiconductors and other tech hardware, routinely seek to conceal scientific data with the potential to show that the companies may be exposing employees to carcinogens.

As these high-tech firms push manufacturing processes to developing (and thus less regulated) countries, the fight to make the effects of these potentially deadly chemicals public knowledge takes on global significance, and begins to evoke an aura of déjà vu. A group of UC agitators fighting for the right to prevent U.S. interests from endangering the lives of thousands of people in regions such as Southeast Asia?

Not a new Vietnam, precisely, but certainly a cause worthy of a new era of campus radicalism. This time around, I'll be sure to pay attention.

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