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Food Fight: The Latest Battle in the US Food Wars

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page, Food Safety Research Center page, Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

The latest skirmish in the United States food wars erupted last month, when Washington State University announced it had dumped a common reading programme in which first-year students would read The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan's scathing critique of agribusiness.

Officials, who had bought 4000 copies of Pollan's book, a bible for the organic and locally grown food movements, cited budget cuts. The blogosphere erupted, with critics talking darkly of political censorship by agribusiness. When Bill Marler, a local lawyer who has litigated against agribusiness, offered to pay Pollan's fee to speak at the university, it backed down.

But if the grassroots are on fire - Pollan wants President Barack Obama to reform the "entire food system" - then Big Food shows no signs of surrendering. Last year biotech giant Monsanto, which markets genetically modified (GM) seeds and the herbicide Roundup, began an advertising campaign that stressed its sustainable credentials. "How can we squeeze more food from a raindrop?" one ad asked, suggesting the solution to hunger and water scarcity was genetically modified food.

For a war is raging over what we eat, where it comes from, who benefits, and the cascading environmental impacts caused by global food chains. Its footsoldiers are grassroots activists, writers and agribusiness marketers. 
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