Journal of Food Law & Policy

Vol. 15, No. 2


Updating the Building Code to Include Indoor Farming Operations

Clint Simpson

Urban agricultural production has grown to be a critical tool in the battles for food security and sustainability. A common regulatory barrier to urban agricultural operations big and small has been ambiguity in land-use laws. Local governments are increasingly friendly toward community gardens, small greenhouse farming operations, farmers markets, and the like. Many have sought to lift regulatory restrictions and provide clarity in the law. However, while these efforts benefit a multitude of local food production efforts, they do little to address the regulatory ambiguities faced by commercial-scale, indoor farming operations, especially vertical farms. Particularly concerning to indoor vertical farms are the ambiguities implicit in the International Building Code (“IBC”), which serves as the model building code for virtually every American municipality. Currently, the IBC lacks any provisions contemplating buildings purposed for large-scale indoor crop production. While some state governments have traditionally exempted agricultural buildings from this type of regulation, this is neither a safe nor feasible solution for indoor farming operations. This article seeks to provide alternative solutions. First, in the short term, local governments should provide clear statutory guidance concerning where indoor farming operations fit into the IBC scheme. Second, as a more sustainable solution, the International Code Council, should update the IBC to account for commercial-scale indoor farming operations by including such operations under a particular occupancy group.


Science and Risk Analysis in CPTPP/SPS-Plus: Role Model or Unbearable Burden?

Kuei-Jung Ni

Trade in food and agricultural products accounts for a major part of global trade, and the trade continues to alert domestic consumers to the risks associated with modern food processing and production methods. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), now rebranded as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), represents a new model of mega-regional trade pacts posed to set higher standards for promoting and streamlining trade liberalization. Because of concerns with national food safety regulations that could constitute forms of non-tariff barriers, the CPTPP, in contrast to the World Trade Organization (WTO), stipulates further rules on parties’ sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS), achieving a type of role model of SPS-plus. This article explores the legal implications and progressiveness of the SPS-plus design, particularly focusing on the requirements of scientific evidence and risk analysis. The SPS-plus that sets hurdles for national regulatory regimes largely reflects WTO jurisprudence, international health standards, and the national regulations of the United States. I argue that the role model may provide momentum to modernize parties’ food safety regimes, but the cost of full compliance could be high. Genuine collaboration, experience-sharing, and technological and financial support between developed countries and less developed countries may alleviate the difficulties of implementation and promote coherence.


The Marketing of Self-Care and Alternative Therapies in the U.S. in 2019: How Industry Stakeholders Appeal to Consumers’ Perceptions of Novel Food Products and Additives

Melanie Marie Glover

This article examines the current marketing techniques of food products and additives in the growing self-care industry in print and digital formats. It assesses how well consumers understand such advertising tactics, and what the industry and federal government agencies are doing (or not doing) to help consumers be mindful and savvy about their purchase choices. The discussion further showcases hot-topic food products and additives including CBD, Kratom, and plant-based meat as examples of both regulatory risk and opportunity. Lastly, the article advocates a collaborative effort among federal government agencies (FDA, FTC, USDA, etc.), industry stakeholders, and the public to help accurately define not only the risks of food products and additives in the self-care space, but also the necessary regulations to keep consumers informed and empowered both in stores and online.


Going Hemp Wild: Understanding the Challenges and Opportunities for FDA Regulation of CBD in Food Products

Hannah Catt

After the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, champions of hemp began to tout opportunities for farmers and businesses involved with the crop. The industry has rallied around one of hemp’s major byproducts, cannabidiol, or CBD. However, the demand for CBD has left the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) playing catch- up. This article explains what CBD is, how it is derived, current FDA-approved uses, and a current path forward for the FDA in creating guidance for industry and consumers.


Agricultural Exceptionalism and Industrial Animal Food Production: Exploring the Human Rights Nexus

Charlotte E. Blattner, Odile Ammann

The host of negative effects of animal agriculture on the immediate environment, workers, and local communities are well-documented, yet little is known about the global repercussions of animal agriculture, especially on human rights guarantees. This contribution attempts to begin filling this soaring gap. It examines the nexus between industrial animal agriculture (with a focus on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)) on the one hand, and specific international human rights violations on the other hand. Our emphasis is on the role of government in producing these violations, rather than on the agribusiness itself. Laws originally designed to govern small family farms—so-called “farmers’ rights” laws, including right-to-farm laws and exemptions from environmental and animal law—now protect corporate giants, many of which are multinationals. Governments enacting and upholding farmers’ rights shield agribusiness activities that are damaging to the environment and humans’ livelihoods from regulation. While they are prima facie at liberty to do so under domestic law, their laws are subject to the scrutiny of international law, particularly the human rights regime that promises to put a halt to the ongoing insulation of animal agriculture. The human rights perspective adds valuable dynamics to the ongoing debate, is novel in application to the issue, and opens new pathways for academic inquiries and legal strategies because—unlike nuisance laws, environmental laws, and animal protection laws, which de facto exempt the issue from judicial scrutiny—these laws can be used to hold governments accountable. The human rights discourse also gives rise to community empowerment and innovative forms of advocacy and forges connections between the different social justice issues implicated in animal agriculture. Finally, we show how scholars, researchers, stakeholders, and the public concerned about human rights issues can bring animal agriculture into the conversation and prompt their governments to address the issue proactively.