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E-M:/ Bush administration proposes privatization of Environmental Health Perspectives

Although not directly related to Michigan, there are a lot of environmentally relevant articles published in Environmental Health Perspectives that relate to Michigan issues.


This sounds like a disturbing change.


From http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/310/5753/1407a?etoc

Science 2 December 2005:

Vol. 310. no. 5753, p. 1407

DOI: 10.1126/science.310.5753.1407a


News of the Week


NIEHS Journal Is on the Block

Jocelyn Kaiser


The new director of the National Institutes of Health's (NIH's) environmental institute has drawn flak by proposing to sell off the institute's well-regarded journal.


In September, David Schwartz requested public comments on privatizing the journal as part of an "ongoing review" of programs. Dozens of scientists and environmental and health groups have reacted in horror, fearing the loss of the journal's mix of research and news, now free online. Some also worry that a commercial owner would be less likely to publish findings unflattering to industry. Last month, a dozen Democratic members of Congress chimed in, writing NIH Director Elias Zerhouni that privatizing the journal "places at risk the integrity and quality" of Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP).


The 33-year-old EHP is published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), a branch of NIH in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. It publishes original research and news in a subscription-based print edition and free online. EHP's impact factor (a measure of how often its articles are cited) of 3.93 ranks it second in environmental science behind Global Change Biology. EHP Editor-in-Chief Thomas Goehl says the journal's $3.3 million annual budget supports the news section, a student edition, and translations of summaries for developing countries as well as the publication of peer-reviewed research.


Since the institute announced its proposal in the 19 September Federal Register, more than 70 mostly academic researchers--including members of EHP's editorial board--have signed a letter voicing "strong opposition" to the move. They fear that nobody else will want to publish its mix of toxicology, epidemiology, medicine, and risk analysis, that developing countries would lose free access, and that EHP's "extras" such as news coverage of "complex science" would be discontinued. Some scientists also worry about EHP's independence. "A commercial publisher may be less willing to publish articles that have implications for powerful interests," suggests epidemiologist David Michaels of George Washington University in Washington, D.C.


Some environmentalists worry that privatizing the journal could be part of what they perceive as a shift away from examining the risks of pollutants and toward studying clinical disease. "The E in NIEHS is going silent," claims toxicologist Jennifer Sass of the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York City.


Schwartz declined to be interviewed, but NIEHS noted in a statement that the government publishes few scientific journals. (In 1997, for example, the only other major NIH-published journal, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, was spun off and is now published by Oxford Press.) NIEHS also argues that maintaining EHP as a government publication "may actually limit the journal's independence and potential future growth." The institute expects to make a decision in the next few months.




John Rebers

Central Upper Peninsula Sierra Club