AUTO SAFETY
Ford recalls 1.48 million pickups

Ford Motor Co. is recalling about 1.48 million F-150 pickup trucks in North America because of a potential downshift issue that could increase the risk of a crash.

Ford said Wednesday that select 2011-2013 model year trucks with six-speed automatic transmission could experience a downshift into first gear without warning, which could result in the loss of vehicle control. Ford is aware of five accidents, with one report of whiplash, potentially related to the issue.

The recall covers 1.26 million trucks in the United States and 221,000 in Canada.

Ford also said it is issuing two other recalls. One covers 28,200 2017-19 Lincoln Continental vehicles in North America for door latches that may not engage because of the buildup of silicon contamination and could cause the door to open while driving. Ford said it was not aware of any reports of accidents or injuries.

Another recall covers 4,200 2019 model Ford Mustang, Lincoln Nautilus and Lincoln Navigator vehicles for instrument panel cluster assemblies that are blank when vehicles are started. No crashes have been reported.

— Reuters

LAWSUITS
Roundup attacks gut bacteria, suit says

Germany’s Bayer, which bought Monsanto last year, faces a claim that it deceived home gardeners about the agriculture giant’s Roundup weedkiller’s impact on their gut bacteria.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Kansas City, Mo., claims that labels on products such as Roundup’s Weed & Grass Killer falsely assured consumers that they target an enzyme not found “in people or pets.”

According to the suit — which names three consumers as plaintiffs seeking unspecified monetary damages and class-action status — Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate attacks an enzyme also found in the beneficial intestinal bacteria of humans and some animals.

The products at issue are distributed by Scotts Miracle-Gro, which is also named as a defendant. Two other suits, in Wisconsin and Washington, are based on similar arguments but aren’t class actions.

Bayer inherited the defense of Roundup when it bought St. Louis-based Monsanto and faces suits by more than 8,000 people who say the weedkiller was a factor in their cancers.

— Bloomberg News

Also in Business

Jeans maker Levi Strauss & Co. has filed to go public, seeking listing on the NYSE under ticker "LEVI." The paperwork was filed with an initial offering size of $100 million, a placeholder amount that's used to calculate fees and will typically change. The company, founded in the 1800s, has been expanding overseas, and 45 percent of its sales come from outside the Americas. Its revenue hit $5.6 billion in the year ended in November. Levi's said it sees an opportunity to boost its presence in emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil.

Italian brand Prada said Wednesday it is forming a diversity council to “elevate voices of color within the company and fashion industry at large,” following accusations of racism in the luxury fashion world. Artist Theaster Gates and film director Ava DuVernay will chair the council, Prada said. The group will work to develop “diverse talent” and create more opportunities for students of color, the luxury fashion house said. Prada apologized in December and withdrew bag charms that resembled black monkeys with exaggerated red lips. Critics said the charms recalled blackface caricatures that propagated racist stereotypes in the United States.

Lululemon Athletica is beefing up benefits, offering full-time employees three to six months of paid parental leave. The gender-neutral benefit awards three months of paid leave to full-time workers who have been at the yogawear company for two years, the company said. Employees with five or more years at the firm qualify for six paid months off. At Lululemon, workers are considered full time if they work 24 hours a week.

Italy has confirmed it is in talks with Delta Air Lines and EasyJet as possible industrial partners in relaunching the troubled Alitalia airline. Italy’s state railway was given a lead role in taking over the country’s flagship airline, which struggled amid competition from low-cost carriers. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte’s office said in a statement Wednesday that it is ready to help establish a new company to run Alitalia as long as the new business plan is sustainable and follows European guidelines.

— From news reports

Coming today

8:30 a.m.: Labor Department releases the Producer Price Index for January.

10 a.m.: Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, releases weekly mortgage rates.