Donor objection prompts Cal Poly to change lecture by agriculture critic Michael Pollan

The TribuneOctober 15, 2009 

The chairman of the Harris Ranch Beef Company, a potential donor to Cal Poly’s planned meat-processing center, objected to a lecture planned for Thursday by sustainable food author Michael Pollan, and the school switched the event to a panel discussion with Pollan and two other speakers.

Pollan advocates feeding cattle with grass, reducing the use of petroleum on farms and decreasingpollution. Harris chairman David Wood said his ideas were unrealistic and not profitable.

Wood, a Cal Poly alumnus who described himself as a “significant donor,” sent a letter to Cal Poly President Warren Baker in late September expressing his displeasure with Pollan’s scheduled talk. Wood said Wednesday that he’s now rethinking a $150,000 donation he pledged to the university’s meat-processing center. Harris Ranch owner John Harris had pledged a $350,000 donation, and he’s rethinking his donation as well, Wood said.

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