May 29 2009

Washington State U. vs. Michael Pollan (and Bill Marler)

For days now, my e-mail inbox has been flooded with messages about the flap at Washington State University over Michael Pollan’s Ominivore’s Dilemma. The messages come from Bill Marler, the Seattle-based “food poisoning attorney” and blogger whose firm specializes in class action lawsuits on behalf of victims of foodborne illness.

This is a good story.  The university bought copies of Omnivore’s Dilemma to distribute to the freshman class (a common community-building exercise at universities these days).  Then, it decided not to give them out.  Could corporate pressure from Washington State agribusiness have had anything to with this decision? No, said the university; they just couldn’t afford to bring Pollan to the campus.

Marler called their bluff.  If it’s really about money, he said, he’d pony up.   The result: the event is back on.

But I’m curious.  Does it really cost $40,000 to get Pollan to travel from Berkeley to WSU?  Pollan says no.  I just hope Marler gets to keep the change and use it to help sick kids.

  • http://www.marlerblog.com Bill Marler

    Thanks for the “shout out.” Frankly, it is not about the $ for me – sometime the issue is just too important to walk away from. I told Michael and WSU, that anything they save me on this trip off the $40-50,000 that was quoted by WSU, I donate for the next speaker – hey, perhaps you?

  • Charles Cowdrick

    Wow, the good guys won one!
    Thanks for reporting this.
    And thanks to Bill Marler for calling WSU on this.

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