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In Brief… – for Nov. 12, 2009

Tainted hamburger: An outbreak of foodborne illness, linked to 157:H7 E. coli bacteria in ground beef in the U. S. has sickened 28 people and caused at least one death, the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Nov. 2.

Fairbank Farms of Ashville, New York, recalled 545,699 lbs. of ground beef products Oct. 31.

The Agriculture Department, which oversees meat safety, said an investigation led it to conclude “there is an association between the fresh ground beef products and illnesses in Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts.” This deal’s a turkey: Retail giant Wal-Mart is offering its U. S. customers a recession-proof Thanksgiving turkey dinner for eight. Starting last week, customers could purchase a 12-lb. Grade A turkey, three cans of vegetables, two cans of cranberry sauce, three six-ounce boxes of instant stuffing, a five-lb. bag of red potatoes, dinner rolls and a pumpkin roll cake for US$20. U. S. Thanksgiving is celebrated Thursday, Nov. 26. There’s no word yet whether customers who wait to do their shopping on Black Friday will see further discounts. Canadian winner: A University of Manitoba PhD student is among 12 Monsanto Beachell-Borlaug International Program scholars named for 2009. Abdulsalam Dakouri will receive a full package of support from the $10-million program to continue his work on wheat improvement through genetic analysis of leaf rust resistance gene Lr34. The program, which honours the accomplishments of plant breeders and world hunger fighters Henry Beachell and Norman Borlaug, calls for award recipients to conduct at least one season of field work in a developing country. No means no: Fertilizer maker Terra Industries Inc. rejected a sweetened $4.1-billion takeover bid from rival CF Industries Holdings Inc. Nov. 4 in the latest twist in a lengthy takeover battle.

Sioux City, Iowa-based Terra said the proposal continues to undervalue its near-term and long-term prospects. “This is a gritty management and they value their independence,” said Wall Street Access analyst Charlie Rentschler.

CF is the subject of its own hostile takeover bid from Canadian fertilizer maker and agricultural products retailer Agrium Inc. – Reuters

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