Medical Journal Decries Parent's Deadly Interest

The Lancet, a leading medical journal, has requested that its parent company, Reed Elsevier, divest itself of business interests that "threaten human health." The magazine's editor made the request after learning that Spearhead Exhibitions, a Reed Elsevier subsidiary, organised the Defence Systems and Equipment international (DSEi) arms fair, which opens this week in London. At the 2003 DSEi exhibition, some of the arms merchants displaying their wares sold cluster bombs. While the company promotes its corporate social responsibility credentials, Reed Elsevier Group spokesman Stephen J. Cowden was unmoved by The Lancet's appeal. Citing its role as a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, Cowden wrote that "it is our view that the defence industry is necessary for upholding national security for the preservation of democratic values." He did not address specific concerns about cluster bombs.