Food Law & Policy: The Fertile Field's Origins & First Decade

57 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2013 Last revised: 25 Jun 2014

Date Written: May 16, 2014


Legal scholarship pertaining to the production and regulation of food historically included two distinct fields of law: Food & Drug Law, which studies the regulation of food by the Food and Drug Administration, focusing on the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and its progeny; and Agricultural Law, which examines the impacts of the law on the agricultural sector and the production of food and fibers. While these two fields are separate and important silos of American legal education, neither alone nor the two as a pair adequately covers many of the legal issues that currently impact our food system. In response to the rising interest in the health, economic, and environmental impacts of the food system, the two fields have merged to create a significant and distinct new field of legal study. As detailed in this article, the field of “Food Law & Policy” is embodied in a growing number of law school courses, legal scholarship, clinical programs, and student societies that look well beyond both Food & Drug Law and Agricultural Law to address important legal and policy issues pertaining to food that had never been explored fully within the legal academy. Though Food Law & Policy emerged out of these two fields, it includes a broader study of the laws and regulations at all levels of government that impact the entire food system, including the animals, crops, food, and beverages we grow, raise, produce, transport, buy, sell, distribute, share, cook, eat, and drink. This article presents original empirical data to document the growing strength of this field; establishes a series of ten benchmarks to describe the vitality of a legal field; and presents data on each of these metrics to reveal how Food Law & Policy has evolved and flourished in the legal academy over the past decade. The article demonstrates that Food Law & Policy has proven to be a timely and vibrant addition to the legal academy, defines the key features of this emerging field and reasons for its inception, and hypothesizes next steps in the ongoing development of the field.

Keywords: Food Law & Policy, Agricultural Law, Food & Drug Law, Legal Education

Suggested Citation

Linnekin, Baylen J. and Broad Leib, Emily, Food Law & Policy: The Fertile Field's Origins & First Decade (May 16, 2014). Wisconsin Law Review, Vol. 2014, No. 3, p. 557 , Available at SSRN:

Emily Broad Leib

Harvard Law School ( email )

1563 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-5879 (Phone)

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