Coronavirus Information and Update: Spring 2021 Plans

Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Law

  • Typically offered every other year

Eating is arguably the most intimate relationship we have with the natural environment. It is a necessity that defines not only survival and human health, but also social values. This intricate web of needs and values has been recognized throughout the ages from Hippocrates, “the father of medicine,” admonishing, “The wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings. Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food,” to the French revolutionary lawyer and the author of The Physiology of Taste, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, stating, “Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you who you are.” As both Hippocrates and Brillat-Savarin recognized, implicit in the act of eating is the norm of consent in which the consumer of a food bases the act of consumption upon an understanding of the facts and implications of consuming that food.

The industrial agriculture system is also a fundamental cause of our current environmental degradation.

This class will provide an initial historical, legal and policy framework for industrial food and agriculture in the United States. The majority of the seminar will then broach this framework in the context a variety of twenty-first century issues, with an emphasis on the connections of our food system to the natural world. Issues covered will include: food safety; labeling; pesticides; factory farms; organic standards; genetically engineered food and crops; and aquaculture.

Evaluation will be based on student papers and class participation. With permission student may opt to do the WIE or Capstone writing requirement.