Sunday, March 13, 2011

West Virginia College of Law: Agricultural Law Initiatives

One of our alumni from the LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law replied to my call for news regarding law school initiatives in agricultural & food law.  Alison Peck, who teaches at the West Virginia College of Law reported on a variety of innovative projects that she is involved in.
Alison reports that she teaches courses related to the question of how the law can guide sustainable development, particularly with relation to global food production and distribution.  Her courses include Agriculture & Rural Land Use, Natural Resources, International Environmental Law, International Trade Law, Property, and a seminar in Sustainable Development.  These courses will eventually be part of the WVU College of Law's new Energy and Sustainability Law Program and Center.

I should note that before Alison joined the West Virginia faculty, she developed and taught an excellent seminar in Sustainable Agriculture in our LL.M. Program.

Working together with West Virginia's Future Farmers of America (FFA), Alison and her colleague, Professor Grace Wigal have established the first annual Agricultural Law Moot Court Competition for West Virginia high schools students. Through the program, FFA students will have an opportunity to practice their advocacy skills with the help of law faculty and students in Alison's Agriculture & Rural Land Use class.  They will argue before state court judges. This year's problem focuses on the prospect of greenhouse gas regulation of agriculture.

Alison is recognized for her scholarship on the issue of agricultural biotechnology. She has published a number of scholarly articles and legal updates relating to international trade in agricultural products, especially agricultural plant biotechnology.  She was a featured guest relating to these issues on Chicago Public Radio's "Worldview," and have commented on these issues for publications such as New York Times/Greenwire and Science magazine.

Alison's current research focuses on a recent trend in contemporary political rhetoric about regulation of food consumer choices to reduce obesity costs. Opponents to such measure evoke founding principles of U.S. constitutional democracy, the founding fathers, and events such as the Boston Tea party. The article reviews the history of the non-importation and non-consumption agreements of the pre-Revolutionary era and argues that this movement was motivated by many of the same concerns that animate modern food policy: rising shared social costs resulting from ostensiby "private" consumption choices.

This summer, Alison will teach in WVU College of Law's Brazil Study Abroad program. She plans to lead students in discussion relating to issues affecting Brazil and the Amazon River, including deforestation, climate change, biodiversity conservation, bioprospecting/biopiracy, benefit sharing, and compulsory licensing of pharmaceuticals. At Centro Universitario Vila Velha, she will lecture to Brazilian and U.S. law students about the Brazil-U.S. trade wars over cotton and ethanol subsidies.

Fascinating work, Alison.  Thanks for letting me post on it.


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