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Pollan Book Pulled From Required Reading

Washington State University is drawing the wrath of the sustainable-food community after word leaked out that pressures from agribusiness had caused the school to pull Michael Pollan's best-selling book "The Omnivore's Dilemma" off the reading list for college freshmen.

The move has surprised and angered advocates of sustainability, who consider Pollan's book a catalyst for the movement. Washington State is a land-grant university that receives funds from corporate agriculture. But the university is known for its progressive curricula. It was one of the first in the United States to offer a degree in organic agriculture.

The story was first reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education. University officials said the decision had been made because of budgetary concerns.

But according to a story in the Spokesman-Review, "pressure apparently was brought to bear by a member of the board of regents, Harold Cochran, who disapproved of the author’s characterization of agribusiness." Cochran, the piece reports, owns a 5,500-acre farm near Walla Walla, Wash., and is a member of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers.

According to the Agricultural Law blog, Western Washington University, which also had chosen "The Omnivore's Dilemma" for its reading list, is sticking with the choice.

-- Jane Black

By Jane Black  |  May 21, 2009; 7:38 PM ET
Categories:  Food Politics  | Tags: Jane Black, education  
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