U.S. Food Law and Policy (21769). 2 units. This seminar will present an overview of topics in food law and examine how these laws shape what we eat. In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to a range of issues influencing the food system from farm to fork to landfill. In just the past year, major news stories have covered the federal farm bill, state genetically-modified organism (GMO) labeling laws, food safety outbreaks in China, and the misleading and unregulated terrain of expiration dates.
This course will put these events in context as we will examine the laws and regulations that govern the foods and beverages we grow, raise, produce, transport, buy, sell, distribute, share, cook, eat, and drink. Course readings will focus on the legislation, regulations, and case law affecting various pieces of the food chain. Each class will begin with ensuring a shared understanding of the relevant sources of law before delving into policy considerations and discussions of what the law could and should be.
Some of the overall themes that this course addresses are the environmental, health, and safety impacts of current methods of food production and distribution; the lack of a comprehensive U.S. food policy and the challenges posed by our fragmented regulatory framework; and the ongoing debate between personal vs. corporate vs. societal responsibility for diet-related disease and the ways in which this debate plays out in legislatures and courtrooms across the country.
The course will be particularly rich, because the laws related to the food system span various agencies and topics at all levels of government. We will concentrate on food law in the United States, but will also occasionally discuss the impacts of U.S. food policy on other nations as well as compare U.S. food laws to international examples.
The reading materials for the course will be provided in a course reader, and will include various cases, statutes, regulations, book chapters, and scholarly articles from a range of disciplines that present diverse viewpoints on the topics presented. The course is intended to spark debate between different sides of these often controversial issues.
The seminar is open to any student interested in food law and policy, and no background or prerequisites are required. There will be no examination; instead, students will be required to participate in one in-class debate and will have a choice of either submitting 4 short (~5 page) response papers during the semester or one longer (~20 page) research paper at the end of the semester. Students will sign up in advance for the weeks they wish to submit response papers, or will let the instructor know that they plan to submit a longer research paper. Students will also be asked to post food law and policy current events on the course site so that we can track the ways in which the laws we are discussing in class are playing out moment to moment across the nation and the world. Paper required. Enrollment capped at twenty. E. Broad Leib.