I learned about this from a post to the Dig_Ref listserv:

Lancet calls for publisher to cut ties with international arms trade, from The Guardian

Editors of the Lancet, one of the world’s foremost medical journals, have demanded that its corporate owner stop promoting the international arms trade.

The journal’s publisher is Reed Elsevier, the multinational behind an arms fair opening in London next week.

Understand, of course, that The Lancet is published by Reed Elsevier, so this is The Lancet’s own board laying into their own publisher. Here’s the editorial in The Lancet: Reed Elsevier and the arms trade

Since 2003, The Lancet’s owner and publisher, Reed Elsevier, has organised some of the world’s largest arms fairs through its exhibition wing, Reed Exhibitions. …

Professionals and practitioners who use Reed Elsevier’s numerous medical and biomedical publications hold to principles that include, at their most basic, the maxim to “do no harm.” Reed Elsevier’s involvement with the arms trade seems incompatible with this principle. It also contradicts Reed Elsevier’s own subscription to the UN Global Compact, which aims to prevent conflicts and human rights abuse.

And Reed Elsevier’s response: Reed Elsevier and the international arms trade — Reed Elsevier’s reply

The defence industry is central to the preservation of freedom and national security. The sale of equipment and services for national defence is not only sanctioned and supported by the British and other leading governments around the world–the same governments which provide the largest single source of funding for scientific research–but is also enshrined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

It is vital that trade shows serving this sector operate in as visible and tightly regulated an environment as possible. Reed Elsevier, through its Reed Exhibitions business (which manages more than 400 trade shows each year serving many different sectors) is well placed to work in conjunction with the UK Ministry of Defence to do this, and to ensure that the show adheres to the highest standards of scrutiny and compliance with the law.

So The Lancet’s argument is: supporting the arms trade is (a) unethical & (b) hypocritical for an organization ostensibly concerned with protecting life & health. Reed Elsevier’s response is: (a) governments say it’s ok, & governments also fund research, which makes them good guys, so it’s ok really, & (b) if it wasn’t us running the show it would be someone worse.