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For Immediate
January 12, 2006

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CSPI Calls on Journals to Strengthen Disclosure of Conflicts

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is calling on the editors of Science and Nature, the world’s two most prestigious science publications, to strengthen their conflict-of-interest disclosure policies.

Both Drs. Hwang Woo-Suk of Seoul National University and Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh have numerous stem cell patent applications on file at the World Intellectual Property Organization and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. None were disclosed in the March 2004 and June 2005 Science articles describing somatic cell nuclear transfer or the August 2005 Nature article describing the cloning of Snuppy the Afghan hound.

CSPI Integrity in Science director Merrill Goozner called on the editors to strengthen their conflict of interest disclosure policies by requiring authors to declare all financial conflicts of interest, including patents and patent applications, whose value may be affected by publication; to tell authors they will publish those conflicts; and to impose a three-year ban on authors who fail to disclose any financial conflicts. The government-sponsored journal Environmental Health Perspectives has such a ban.

"Science and Nature should take the lead in the wake of this scandal," said Goozner. "In a world where financial incentives can warp the scientific enterprise just as much as the lust for scientific prestige, it is incumbent that journal editors have strict conflict-of-interest disclosure policies. And, given the voluntary nature of disclosure, they should have teeth like a three-year ban on publishing for failing to disclose."