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Photo by Zack Sheppard/Flickr CC

In my previous post, I mentioned that a Cal Poly donor had written the university arguing that Michael Pollan should not be permitted to speak to students unopposed. The donor, Mr. David Wood of Harris Ranch Beef Company, wrote Dr. Warren Baker, President of Cal Poly, threatening to withdraw his promised $500,000 contribution if the invitation to Mr. Pollan was not withdrawn.

I now have copies of the actual letters. They are well worth reading by anyone concerned about the relationship of industrial agriculture to its impact on soil and water, climate change, rural sustainability, air quality, animal welfare, worker safety, antibiotic resistance, and human health, as well as by the influence of Big Agriculture on public policy.

The original letter from Mr. Wood to Dr. Baker is an Adobe file that is too big for me to upload (I am trying to find out how to do this and will post as soon as I get instructions that work), but here are Dr. Baker's response to that letter and Mr. Wood's response to Dr. Baker.

My favorite quotation from Mr. Wood's response is this:

For too long now, those intimately involved in production of agriculture have silently allowed others (academics and activists) to shape their future. Not any longer! The views of elitists' [sic] like Michael Pollan can no longer go unchallenged. Agriculture cannot allow the Pollans of the world to shape societal expectations (and ultimately policy makers' decisions) regarding the production practices that can or cannot be employed by those whose livelihood depends on the continued development and adoption of modern agriculture practices.

I will let this comment speak for itself.