Journal of Food Law & Policy

Vol. 15, No. 1


Consumer Power to Change the Food System? A Critical Reading of Food Labels as Governance Spaces: The Case of Acai Berry Superfoods

Christine Parker, Hope Johnson, Janine Curll

This article argues that the marketing claims on food labels are a governance space worthy of critical examination. We use a case study of superfood açaí berry products to illustrate how marketing claims on food labels encapsulate dominant neoliberal constructions of global food systems. These marketing claims implicitly promise that by making careful choices consumers can resist and redress the ravages of unbridled global capitalism.


The Clash of Agricultural Exceptionalism and the First Amendment: A Discussion of Kansas' Ag-Gag Law

Meredith Kaufman

Since the nation’s founding, agricultural production has been treated differently than other industries. This concept, known as “agricultural exceptionalism,” has manifested in many different ways throughout U.S. history. Since the 1990s, one manifestation of agricultural exceptionalism has been the enactment of “Ag-gag laws,” state laws that limit information gathering activities at animal production facilities. Ag-gag laws are frequently criticized by animal welfare advocates and legal scholars for seeking to shield animal production facilities from public scrutiny, a state-sanctioned protection not afforded to other industries.


Blockchain Meets Genomics: Governance Considerations for Promoting Food Safety and Public Health

Walter G. Johnson

Foodborne illness remains an ongoing public health challenge in both the developing and industrialized worlds. In the United States, almost 50 million reported cases of infectious disease occur every year from a food product, resulting in substantial morbidity and mortality with economic burdens to health care and productivity. Despite recognition as a leader in food safety, the U.S. experiences longstanding and novel issues in food safety. Advances in whole genome sequencing (WGS) promise to bolster food safety regulators’ capabilities to identify pathogens and determine their source. However, inefficiencies in tracing food products through the supply chain remain.


Federal Regulation of Pesticide Residues: A Brief History and Analysis

Kate Z. Graham

In the United States today, there are over 900 pesticides in use1 and over 400 are approved for use in food production, whether used as part of the growing process or in post-harvest handling. Although the history of pesticide use in food crops goes back centuries, the post-war period has seen an enormous growth in the varieties and amounts of pesticides used in our food system. As our reliance on pesticides has grown, pesticides have become a divisive issue. Pesticide advocates view them as essential to a secure and reliable food supply needed to feed a growing world population. Detractors, however, point out the public health risks—both known and not yet fully understood—that widespread pesticide use may entail. Meanwhile, consumer demand for products grown without the use of pesticides is increasing, while at the very same moment farmers are applying more and different pesticides to combat pesticide-resistant “superweeds.” These tensions are playing out both globally and locally in a variety of arenas, from debates over pesticide bans within international organizations and national governments, to the litigation of personal injury claims in American courts.


Legislative and Executive Branch Developments Affecting the United States Department of Agriculture Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Sheila Fleischhacker, Alyssa Moran, Sara N. Bleich

For more than forty years, the United States Department of Agriculture Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly Food Stamps) has offered nutrition assistance to nearly forty million eligible individuals and families each month. This article first provides a brief overview of the evolution of the United States’ largest domestic food security and nutrition safety net program. Then, the article reviews Congressional actions taken regarding SNAP during the 2018 Farm Bill deliberations, appropriations for fiscal years 2017 through 2020, and oversight (in)activities. The article focuses on Congressional activities regarding block grants; participant eligibility; benefit adequacy, issuance, and redemption; and strengthening SNAP’s nutritional impacts. Next, the article discusses a variety of executive orders, administrative actions, initiatives, nominations, budget proposals, and tweets with SNAP implications put forth thus far by President Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States. These actions include the America’s Harvest Box, natural disaster responses, the public charge rule, tariffs on Chinese imports, and various agency relocations and reorganizations. The article reflects on how each of these legislative and executive developments might impact SNAP's organization, operations at the federal, tribal, state and retailer levels, and, ultimately, eating patterns and health of participating and eligible children and families, persons with disabilities, and elders.