Agribusiness over academic freedom

I just received the following from an organization called Food Democracy Now, and I thought that some of you might find it of interest.

Make a Call for Academic Freedom

Last week, Washington State University announced that it was pulling Michael Pollan’s best-selling book The Omnivore’s Dilemma from its required Common Reading Program for all incoming freshman due to pressure from corporate agribusiness.

This type of censorship cannot stand!

In March of this year, a university committee had selected Pollan’s book, which takes a careful look at how America produces its food, and decided that it was an excellent choice for the student body of the land grant university.

Unfortunately, WSU administrators later removed the book from the required common reading program. While top WSU officials attributed removal of Pollan’s book from the reading program to hard financial times, despite the fact the 4,000 copies of the book have already been purchased, some faculty members have spoken out.

End Corporate Influence and Fear at America’s Land Grant Universities

One WSU professor, quoted in The Chronicle of Higher Education – anonymously, for fear of losing their job, stated that Pollan’s book was pulled “because of the politics of the agriculture industry…and that President Floyd decided that this was not a battle he wanted to wage.”

It’s time that this type of corporate control over land grant education and research end.

We believe that academic freedom and vigorous debate on all intellectual issues should be encouraged at every university, especially land grant universities charged with turning out the next generation of leaders of 21st century agriculture.

If you want university research to be free of the corruptive influence of corporate agribusiness, you need to call or write today.

Stand up for Michael Pollan and Academic Freedom!

Let WSU President Elson Floyd know that you support the university’s original decision for all incoming freshman to read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and believe he should honor that commitment.

Sustainably Yours,
Food Democracy Now!

I’m told the best way to reach Washington State University President Elson Floyd, for those of you who would like to do so, is by way of email. His address is:

And here, continuing the TED thread started last night, is a link to video of Michael Pollan addressing the group.

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  1. Paw
    Posted May 28, 2009 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    One wonders ho much money WSU takes in each year from agribusiness.

  2. update
    Posted May 28, 2009 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations & Thank You!

    We just got off the phone with the Washington State University’s President’s office and congratulated them on the decision to reinstate Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, as part of their Common Reading Program.

    Within hours of sending out our alert, we received the good news from a supporter named Lynn:

    “The power of numbers! By the time I called, 3:21 Pacific, the president’s office told me that they’ve gotten so many calls about this and, thanks to a generous donation by an alumni, the program and the book has been reinstated. Food Democracy Now! rocks!”

    While we appreciate that sentiment, we’d also like to give credit where credit is due.

    We understand that food safety lawyer Bill Marler, a WSU alum and former Regents of the university, had a conversation with President Elson Floyd about the reading program this afternoon and offered to pay for Michael Pollan’s trip as well as pay for the full cost to cover the Common Reading Program.

    Food Democracy Now! wants to thank Mr. Marler for his extremely generous support on this issue and also everyone who responded to this alert. Three cheers for Pollan, Marler and WSU!

    This is a testament to what we can accomplish when we all work together.

    Thanks so much for your continued support.

    Sustainably Yours,
    Food Democracy Now!

  3. Curt Waugh
    Posted May 28, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    “…and, thanks to a generous donation by an alumni, the program and the book has been reinstated.”

    Cool! Our guy bought off their guy.

    MONEY RULZ!!!!!!!!

  4. Posted May 28, 2009 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, that’s funny.

  5. Ol' E Cross
    Posted May 28, 2009 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    good god.

  6. Tom
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Thus proves that collective action don’t mean crap compared to outright bribery. Democracy Schmemocracy.

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