Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Agricultural & Food Law at UCLA

UCLA School of Law is also moving forward to address cutting edge issues of food and agricultural law.  I have been delighted to be in touch with LL.M. Program alumnus, Michael Roberts who reported on his work at UCLA as an adjunct professor.  Michael serves as Special Counsel to the Roll Law Group LLP, a law firm that exclusively represents Roll Global Corporation, a private holding company headquartered in Los Angeles with farming and food companies worldwide.  Michael also directs the Center for Food Law & Policy.

And, my aglaw posts have yielded a new contact, Distinguished Professor Grace Ganz Blumberg.  Professor Blumberg plans to teach an Agricultural Law course in the near future, emphasizing critical environmental and labor law issues, relying largely on Food Farming & Sustainability: Readings in Agricultural Law.  UCLA may thus be the first top-twenty law school to offer an Agricultural Law class since the early days of agricultural law studies in the 1940's when Harvard and Yale both offered courses.

Last fall, UCLA brought Michael Roberts on board as an adjunct professor to teach a new seminar course, Consumer Food Law and Policy.  This new course was open to 2nd and 3rd year law students as an elective.  Although it was initially capped at sixteen students, twenty-four registered and were allowed to take the class -  exceptionally high interest for a first time class.  Michael noted that there seemed to be a high level of interest in food issues among the UCLA law students.

The course looked at food law and policy issues through the legal prism of the consumer, giving particular focus to "urban" issues related to food/agriculture.  For example, the class considered some of the current debates involving food regulation and examined the assumptions about consumers made by legislators and government agencies in drafting policy.

Michael brought in a number of guest speakers from California and nationally. The class covered food safety, labeling, advertising, nutrition and food policy in general, in the context in the context of local, regional, and international perspectives.  The course is expected to be a regular offering each Fall.

Michael also reports that he has been meeting with the UCLA Dean, Rachel Moran to discuss his work as Director of the new Center for Food Law & Policy in Los Angeles.  The mission of CFLP is "to advance thoughtful policymaking through innovative legal scholarship to help consumers make informed food choices."  Each year,  CFLP will host a seminar on a timely issue relating to food law and policy.  CFLP solicits prominent lawyers, doctors, and other professionals  to author papers on the given topic for that year. The papers are self -published by CFLP, and the authors presents their work at the yearly seminar.  The 2011 seminar will focus on "law as a tool to address the problem of obesity."

Again, exciting work to report on!

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