Welcome!

Welcome to On Food Law, a food law and policy blog administered by the Food Law Lab at Harvard Law and the Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy at UCLA Law.  This blog will be a forum for food law scholars, policymakers, media, the food industry, and the interested public to engage with and discuss research in and ideas about food law and policy.

Food is, at once, the most personal and the most political.  Food affects all of us and the law affects all of food.  The things we eat, from morning coffee to late night snack, come to us as they are as the result of an elaborate web of legal regulations.  On Food Law’s goal is to build an understanding of the law of food, and ultimately improve both the law and our food.

We hope to foster and amplify the conversation among the many stakeholders, including industry, activists, academics, and politicians. Our authors will include members of the Food Law Lab, Resnick Center, Harvard Law, and UCLA Law faculty, staff, and students, as well as other scholars, policymakers, and individuals with ideas that may affect the food system.  We will also cross post to other blogs and relevant publications.

We would like for this blog to be a place of thoughtful discussion, and although our default is no comments, we will consider opening specific posts to comments or publishing responses.  Please see our policies.

Finally, please join the discussion, share what you see here, and stay in touch.  Follow us on Twitter at @UCLAFoodLaw and @thefoodlawlab, or email us at resnickprogram@law.ucla.edu, info@foodlawlab.com, or winters@law.ucla.edu.

 

 

 

Featured post

Conference: FDA – Past, Present, and Future

Last Friday I attended a terrific conference sponsored by American University Washington College of Law’s Health Law and Policy Program and the Food and Drug Law Institute (FDLI) on the FDA – Past, Present, and Future.  From a discussion with four former FDA Commissioners—Califf, Hamburg, Kessler, and von Eschenbach—to a conversation with four former FDA chief counsels—Cooper, Hutt, Masoudi, Troy—the conference provided a fantastic perspective on the agency, both current and historical.  There was a keynote address by Henry T. Greely, the Director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford Law School, and a plethora of fantastic breakout sessions on drugs, devices, tobacco and cosmetics, food and animal products, and biological products.  You can find the agenda and conference papers here.  This was a conference for the ages, and I was lucky to be there.

Notes from South Korea

by Michael T. Roberts

On August 28, 2018, I participated in a roundtable discussion and spoke at a conference in South Korea sponsored by the National Food Safety Information Service (NFSI). As best as I can tell, this conference was the first in South Korea. The roundtable provided an excellent opportunity for me to listen first-hand to concerns about food regulation in South Korea.  The conference included academics working with NFSI as well as South Korean government officials. My assigned topic at the conference was Consolidation of Food Safety Regulation: Historical and Contemporary Considerations. My presentation addressed the current Trump proposal on June 21, 2018, to consolidate the administration of food safety regulation into the USDA and to rename FDA to Federal Drug Administration. This issue is very pertinent to South Korea, where there exists a high degree of fragmentation of food safety regulation.

NFSI is funded by the South Korean government. The organization comprises experts (mostly PhDs) who work closely with the Korean FDA and other agencies with jurisdiction over food safety regulation in Korea. I enjoyed getting to know officials of NFSI: Yun-Hee Chung, the President; Joohyung Lee, the Department Manager; and Soyoung Gwon, a Principal Researcher.

I very much appreciated the gracious hospitality of our hosts and look forward to further interaction with NFSI and others in South Korea in the pursuit of good governance of food.

 

 

 

 

 

Perspective: California Takes Important Step to Decriminalize Microenterprise

By: Joseph Pileri, Contributor

Last month, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation legalizing street vending across California. This bill prohibits California localities from outlawing street vending outright or treating any violation of street vending regulations as a criminal offense, limiting penalties to administrative fines payable only on an as-needed basis. The law also requires prosecutors to dismiss any currently pending prosecution brought under street vending regulations.[1]

This bill follows years of efforts by advocates in Los Angeles to legalize street vending in the city. For years, street vending was illegal in Los Angeles despite the near ubiquity of fruit carts, taco stands, and hot dog vendors. There was a blanket ban on street vending that exposed any street vendor to potential fines and criminal violations.[2] Advocates recently renewed their push to change this law so that thousands of immigrant street vendors would not find themselves facing deportation because of operating a street vending business.

Los Angeles was not alone in its treatment of street vending. Municipalities around the country have criminalized street vending or the violation of street vending regulations. This is an example of what I term “the criminalization of microenterprise” – local jurisdictions completely outlawing street vending and other business activities or treating violations of licensing rules as a criminal offense. I am working on a project to survey municipalities around the country and study their treatment of street vending. The results, thus far, are surprising. Though many localities require street vendors to be licensed and may impose fines and civil penalties for violating these licensing requirements, cities from Detroit[3] to Houston[4] treat the failure to comply with street vending regulations as a criminal violation. Washington, DC attempted to criminalize street vending in 2014.

These laws have disproportionately negative effects on would-be entrepreneurs who already face barriers to entering the formal economy. Immigrants, those with legal status and those without, individuals returning from incarceration, and individuals with time-consuming childcare and family obligations often look to start microenterprises like street vending to provide for themselves and their families. When these types of businesses are criminalized, vulnerable individuals may be deterred from starting these enterprises or may face severe penalties, including deportation or incarceration, for what would otherwise be a simple licensing violation.

Concerns about public health and safety – particularly when it comes to food – are understandable. The public has a right to know that food, even when bought and consumed on the street, is safe. The California law, however, does not force Angelenos to take health risks with every bite of their al pastor taco. This legislation explicitly permits cities to pass ordinances related to public health and safety. Cities may even have an easier time regulating the safety of food sold by street vendors now that proprietors of these businesses no longer face potential criminal penalties.

Much work remains to understand the extent to which cities and states criminalize street vending and other microenterprises. California has taken an important first step that both protects the health of the public and allows individuals to support themselves and their families. Angelenos who love grabbing a pupusa or a bacon-wrapped hot dog on the go will also be appreciative. By criminalizing microenterprise, cities raise barriers to entry for vulnerable entrepreneurs, unduly burden those entrepreneurs most at risk, and detract from the vibrancy of communities. I hope that California is only the first to reverse this trend.

 

[1] 2018 Cal. Legis. Serv. Ch. 459 (S.B. 946) (WEST).

[2] L.A., Cal., Municipal Code Section 42.00 (1994).

[3] Detroit, Mich., City Code § 41-6-2 (2017).

[4] Hous., Tex., Code of Ordinances § 22-91 (2018).

Resnick Center 2018 Law Student Writing Competition Winners!

The Resnick Center is delighted to announce the winners of its 2018 Law Student Writing Competition on legal and policy issues that may hinder or delay social innovation in the food industry.  The judges were incredibly impressed with the quality of all of the papers submitted, and want to thank everyone who submitted.

The winning papers were precise and well-written, and grappled with the topic in exciting and even surprising ways.  Click on the titles to access the full papers.

The winners:

 

Michael Roberts Talks About Food Authenticity

Read a conversation about food authenticity in Quality Assurance & Food Safety magazine between Michael Roberts; John Spink, director, Michigan State University Assistant Professor and Food Fraud Initiative; Karen Everstine, Decernis Senior Manager, Scientific Affairs; and Mitchell Weinberg, International Food authenticity Assurance Organization (IFAAO) founder, president, CEO, and Chairman of the Board.

Among other things, they discuss why the concept of food authenticity is so important right now, and the difference between food fraud and food authenticity.  Good stuff!

Suing Monsanto: An interview with Michael Baum and Pedram Esfandiary

by Diana R. H. Winters

Michael Roberts and I were lucky enough to spend an hour talking with Michael Baum and Pedram Esfandiary from the law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman.  The firm represents approximately 700 plaintiffs in lawsuits against Monsanto alleging that the plaintiffs’ exposure to the Roundup herbicide caused them or a loved one to contract non-Hodgkin lymphoma.  Some of these lawsuits have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation in United States District Court in San Francisco, a Judicial Council Coordination Proceedings (“JCCP”) in Oakland and consolidated cases in St. Louis (near Monsanto’s headquarters).   Shortly after this interview, one of these state cases proceeded through trial, and a jury in San Francisco returned a verdict of $289.2 million against Monsanto, including $250 million in punitive damage.  Brent Wisner of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman was co-lead trial counsel in this case.

Baum and Esfandiary also represent plaintiffs in a separate class action against Monsanto Co. alleging that the company falsely promoted Roundup as interfering with an enzyme that was not found in humans or pets, although this enzyme does actually interfere with essential, beneficial microbiota found in both humans and pets.  This class action accuses Monsanto of making “false, misleading, and deceptive” claims.

These lawsuits against Monsanto are brought to help individuals who have suffered harm, but also impact our food system as a whole, and have the potential to influence change in the regulatory landscape.

Michael Baum in the senior managing partner of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, and he has been lead counsel in thousands of personal injury, drug catastrophe, and mass disaster litigations.  He is a graduate of UCLA Law School.  Pedram Esfandiary joined the firm in 2016.  He holds a law degree from the University of Birmingham Law School, UK, and a Master of Laws degree from the USC Gould School of Law.

Baum, Hedlund has quite a bit of information about these lawsuits on their website.  See here for information on the Monsanto Papers, which are documents obtained by the firm during discovery.  And see here for information on how the class action differs from the individual lawsuits.  For more information on Monsanto, contact info@baumhedlundlaw.com.

 

NOTE: The interview has been edited and condensed for readability.

Diana Winters [DW]

Michael Roberts [MTR]

Michael Baum [MB]

Pedram Esfandiary [PE]

 

 

DW: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to these Monsanto cases?

MB: Well I actually started doing various forms of product liability cases in pharmaceutical products. And I’ve worked on a wide range of [] wrongful death and product liability cases. One of the women that works in our office had an uncle who was a farmer up in San Luis Obispo area, and used nothing but Roundup, which is a glyphosate-based herbicide. And he and his dog both developed lymphoma and died, [from] non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and they asked us to look into it. Another UCLA grad, Brent Wisner, at our office, and I had been …looking into ways of using litigation to influence or prove or expose what is going on with the pesticide industry interfering with the food supply [by] contaminating it, or killing the bees and the pollinators that honey farmers and almond growers and pistachio growers [rely on].

So we were interested in the area, and started pulling data on the relationship between glyphosate based formulations like Roundup that are used to kill weeds, and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and found that there had actually been a publication in March of 2015 at IARC, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, that [noted] the association between glyphosate based products and non-Hodgkins lymphoma and other forms of cancer. And the strongest correlation was with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

 

DW: What is the International Agency for Research on Cancer? Is it a United States-based organization?

MB: World Health Organization. A lot of neutral independent scientists are appointed by the World Health Organization as part of the International Agency for Research on Cancer. They are leading academics and scientists from around the world, and they are do non-industry funded research, which is important in this area because so much of academic research is corrupted by industry. I’ve been on the soapbox for a long time.

 

 

DW: Okay, and so you started to collect this data, and—?

MB: … [The report showed] elevated levels of carcinogenicity related to Roundup and glyphosate-based products. So with that body of science we had enough to file a lawsuit. So we … summarized it, and decided to represent the family of the farmer in San Luis Obispo who … believed that Roundup was safe for humans because it said so on the label. The label says it affects an enzyme found in plants, but not in humans or pets, [so was] safe to use on food. And he had a citrus farm and he went around and sprayed all of his trees and around his trees with Roundup thinking it was safe.

 

DW: And [] under what theory was the case brought?

MB: That [the farmer’s] exposure to Roundup while he was spraying it around his farm caused non-Hodgkins lymphoma. And there are a couple of mechanisms for how it does that.

[Baum explains here that the glyphosate in Roundup and other herbicides combines with another molecule in the herbicide, a surfactant, which multiplies exponentially the harmful effects of the glyphosate.]

PE: [] What is significant here is that Monsanto managed to focus regulatory agencies and the public on just glyphosate whereas what is being used is Roundup, a formulated product, [including] the surfactants and [other chemicals] that contribute to the carcinogenicity of the product. There are impurities in there that come about as a result of the manufacturing process. One of them is dioxane, which is a recognized carcinogen. Another one is formaldehyde which is another recognized carcinogen, as well as NNG . These are all individual carcinogens that are in the Roundup formulation.

MB: So the surfactant is supposed to be inert. And the way they define inert is that it is not the active molecule that is interfering with the enzyme pathway that glyphosate influences. And they test them separately, not together.

 

DW: Even though they are together in the product?

MB: Yes.

PE:  So the EPA [studies] of Roundup, [are not of] Roundup, [but] of the molecule glyphosate.

MB: So one of the issues is that glyphosate by itself, under the conditions, is not as carcinogenic as the formula that has the surfactant in it. And so studies—some of the internal documents that we got from Monsanto, and that we declassified and circulated around the world, was their internal discussion saying we can’t say that Roundup is not carcinogenic because we haven’t actually tested that and don’t want to know the outcome.

 

MTR:  It’s interesting, you sent these documents to Europe how many years ago?

MB: A year and a half.

 

MTR:  A year and a half ago.

MB: Just before Roundup and glyphosate-based products were supposed to be getting their license renewal for the next fifteen years.

 

MTR:  The outcome of that, was what?

MB: It stopped it being renewed for fifteen years.

DW: There were a bunch of these cases, right? The non-Hodgkins lymphoma cases?

MB: Yeah, we represent about 700 people.

 

DW: So these are separate cases that have been combined in a multi-district litigation?

PE:  Both the state level and federal level, it is multi-district litigation. In California, we have a JCCP, which is a Judicial Council for Coordinated Proceedings.

MB: It is the California equivalent of an MDL.

 

 

MB: There is a consolidated group of cases in Saint Louis. And all told there have probably been around 8,000 cases filed.

 

[DW asks about the timeline of other filed cases.]

MB: As we …were looking around to see how and where to file, one of my colleagues from this other litigation I worked on, … invited us to come to [a meeting with other lawyers filing Roundup cases in January 2016]. So we were part of that initial crew of law firms that came together to sort of strategize where and how to file, and what experts to get, things like that.

 

DW: Why are some of the cases brought in federal court and some in state court?

PE:  Well, it’s just legal strategy. So the federal cases have been consolidated, and the … MDL judge has bifurcated those cases, which means he wants to consider general causation first, which is the question of whether this product can generally cause cancer in human populations, before he proceeds to considering specific causation, i.e. whether it caused cancer in any individual plaintiff. And that is a significant hurdle for the plaintiff’s bar to overcome, especially in federal court with the Daubert standard[1] for expert testimony.

So that is one reason. Another reason is because of the high standards for admitting expert testimony in federal court versus state court. State proceedings tend to be a lot more kind of full steam ahead, and getting to a trial is going to be maybe not easier but a more streamlined process.

MB: So one of the issues in federal court due to the bifurcation was that we were limited on what discovery we could do, and then … everything had to be related to general causation. We wanted to get our hands on some of those internal documents which showed this corruption going on, and ghostwriting [of scientific articles], and having journal editors and journal peer reviewers on Monsanto’s payroll. That is real corruption. And that doesn’t relate to whether or not glyphosate as a molecule causes cancer, it relates to—wrongful conduct by the company but doesn’t necessarily mean it could cause cancer. So we had run into quite a bit of resistance from Monsanto to give us those documents, and from the judge considering whether or not he would give them to us. We ended up getting some, but not all—so we wanted to have the state court litigation where there wasn’t necessarily going to be bifurcation, and that would allow us to get access to some of these [documents].

 

 

DW: [In addition,] there is another case too, right? The class action that is alleging economic harm?

MB: Yes.

 

DW: When did that come about, and why, and how does it work? …

MB: Yes. [W]hile we were working on this, Pedram and I in particular were researching how does non-Hodgkins lymphoma get caused by a pesticide? How does that occur? Either getting it on your skin, or you are breathing it in, or you may have a background level that you are already exposed to because it is in all non-organic food. So we decided to just pull the string on it and do research, and some of the research that came out of that is that there is—part of the human body…is a bunch of bacteria and fungi … that are called microbiota that …are the gut flora that help process foods and create the vitamins, and are part of your immune system. And they are also in your skin and all of your mucus membranes. And the label for Roundup says [it affects an] enzyme found in plants not in humans or pets,” so it’s safe. And they actually promoted it as being safer than salt, and you can actually drink it or put it in your food or bathe in it. They got prohibited by Elliot Spitzer in New York from saying those things, but the label gives the impression, and marketing gives the impression you can put on your shorts and walk out and spray the Roundup on your yard and on your driveway, and there’s no harm to worry about to your kids or your  pets or yourself because it only affects an enzyme found in plants, not in humans.

And the lawsuit that we filed is that [the herbicide] interferes with a pathway called the shikimate pathway that involves an enzyme that is necessary for the plants to create three amino acids that are formed in building blocks for proteins. You interfere with those amino acids, you don’t get the proteins, and then the plant dies. And the microbiota that are on your skin and in your mucus membranes and in your gut rely upon the shikimate pathway. Human cells don’t have that pathway, so they don’t depend on the pathway, so it’s partly correct to say that it affects an enzyme found in plants, not in humans. But it is incorrect because the gut flora that are in your body are affected by it. And so it kills them or weakens some beneficial microbiota that affect and monitor cancer cells, and pathogenic microbiota. And some of the pathogenic microbiota are resistant to glyphosate. So it negatively selects bad bacteria to grow and thrive, and decreases some of the microbiota that are helpful for preventing some forms of cancer.

 

MB: … So we filed a lawsuit saying that the label for Roundup is false and misleading because it leads people to think that it is safe for use around their homes, or around their landscaping, or around their farms when it actually affects a big part of the human body, which is the microbiota.

PE:  And the labeling case, we don’t have to necessarily show that the effect on microbiota causes disease. We just have to show that the microbiota are affected by glyphosate, which is contrary to what is on the label.

 

DW: So you don’t have to have the specific causation.

PE:  Yeah, so it’s like we don’t have to sit down and determine in a general population would this have led to any adverse events for any specific plaintiff.

 

DW: Because you wouldn’t have bought it if you knew it would possibly do this.

 

 

PE:  …[I]t’s about informed choice. If there is a label on there saying, look this stuff can cause cancer, this stuff interferes with a vital mechanism in your body, then the consumer should be made aware of that. Even when you buy cigarettes you are in full knowledge that this causes cancer, right? You can at least make the choice with that information in mind. Right now for Roundup there is no such label, there is no warning, there is no indication that this could potentially cause harm. So it’s—whether it should be on the market, off the market, that’s a regulatory decision, but at least the consumer should be made aware of its potential danger, and that is what the lawsuit is.

 

DW: As you said, this case is about information disclosure and letting people make informed choices. But it also sounds like as a whole, and specifically with the non-Hodgkins lymphoma cases you are also doing a bit of policy work by [publicizing] these documents … and trying to actually change the regulatory landscape, is that correct?

MB: Yes, so one of the things we did was we summarized some of the documents, and summarized some of the IARC findings, and submitted those … to help the California equivalent of the EPA make a decision about how to list glyphosate and glyphosate-based formulations as carcinogens for Prop 65.[2] And there are two battles.

One is whether California can rely on an entity like IARC to make a decision of whether to list something under Prop 65. It is an outside entity, it is not regulated [by] the California government or the California EPA, … And we wanted to support California going forward with listing it as a possible carcinogen based on the science that IARC—because it was independent science, and not industry funded science, and not ghostwritten science, it was independent scientists who came to that conclusion using animal, petri dish, and human epidemiology to arrive at that conclusion. So we wanted to make sure they were aware of that, and also aware of some of the internal documents we accumulated showing how Monsanto had been attempting to influence the regulators, and actually had a campaign to invalidate and discredit IARC. One of the things [Monsanto was] trying to avoid is a Prop 65 listing. And so we brought with us also the battle plans that Monsanto had for responding to the IARC carcinogenicity finding. These are now declassified. …

PE:  But the broad—the policy issues here is that Monsanto’s kind of mantra has been to say 70 regulatory agencies across the world have approved glyphosate for use in their countries. The problem with regulatory agencies [is that they are] usually aligned with the executive, right? Or [with] the administrative government, and they are subject to lobbying influence. Whereas IARC is quite literally a research organization which receives funding from governments, but it is not approached by lobbyists, it doesn’t make regulatory decisions, it has no enforcement power, it is just an arm of the WHO that does pure research. So that is what is so compelling about IARC’s findings …

 

 

DW: What about unintended consequences? Glyphosate has been around for, what, decades now?

MB: Yes.

 

DW: So have they developed something new, and are we more scared of that?

MB: Well …one of the agriculture effects has been that there are weeds that are developing resistance to glyphosate. … Super weeds, super pig weeds that used to be—you could just pull them or use a weed whacker to kill them, you need—they are super thick, super tough, and require an electric saw to cut them. That was one of the beefs that Europe had with Roundup, is there is a whole lot of super resistant weeds growing there that are taking over, and so that is a problem.

So Dicamba was developed to help with that. And one of the problems with Dicamba, it’s more volatile, and it’s become—it gets up in the air and floats. And so it will float over to other farms, and where their plants are not resistant to Dicamba and it kills them. …

 

 

PE:  [A]t least what the litigation does is kind of spearhead the process towards alternatives.  By making all of the risks and potential dangers known it incentivizes innovation and research towards advances. Particularly since such a large proportion of the food supply is already contaminated with Roundup and glyphosate, and naturally people want to steer away from that way of cultivating food.

[Discussion of potential health effects of the human consumption of Roundup, including research on gluten sensitivity as caused and exacerbated by herbicides in human food.]

MB: So an amusing story, when we went to Brussels, and we had this package of documents we were circulating around to the EU. We met with some of the German agriculture minister’s office, and we had a nice little meeting in there, and they had a plate of cookies and things to drink. And as I was explaining the glyphosate connection I said—the woman that was working as our liaison started to grab a cookie, and I said, that cookie and all of the cookies on that plate, if they were not organic and were made from flour that was probably treated with Roundup just before the harvest you are about to eat a bunch of glyphosate, and she put it down.

 

 

DW: Please tell me where these cases are right now.

MB: Well there is the state level, and the federal level. We, in March finished off the Daubert hearings in the federal case, and he hasn’t ruled yet. We have a similar set of hearings in the state case, and it’s called the Sargon hearing–it is the California equivalent of the Daubert hearings–and that is evaluating whether our experts used valid methodology to arrive at their conclusions that there was a carcinogenicity connection.

[Discussion of “preference” case Baum and Esfandiary have that was about to go to trial.  A preference case is a case that goes to trial quickly because the plaintiff is dying or elderly.]

About a month ago the Sargon hearings [in this case] were completed and the judge issued a very comprehensive, detailed analysis rejecting Monsanto’s arguments that our experts are not to be allowed to testify, and he said that there was good justification for them to testify. [The court also] rejected their motions for summary judgment, and allowed us to present punitive damages data saying that there is ample evidence upon which a reasonable jury could conclude that ‘malice, oppression or fraud’ might have occurred by Monsanto. So this case is starting in San Francisco City on June 18th.[3]

 

 

DW: It is really interesting how these cases are working together towards incremental change but also systemic change.

MB: And that is one of the things I wanted to get across to students who read this, is that there is something that you can do with a law degree to create change.

 

DW: And that was going to be my final question. Do you have advice for aspiring lawyers who want to work for the public interest, in the public interest, for private firms working in the public interest, to make the world a better place?

PE:  Honestly, my perspective from the limited experience I have had is that you can achieve a significant amount on the local government level. Especially in a country like America where such power is by default in local governments given a federal system. We don’t have that luxury in the UK, [because] everything is monitored and controlled by Parliament in London, whereas here there is so much local initiative to make a change. And I think especially when it comes to environmental issues, states have discretion, so being involved on a local level does have a lot of impact. You don’t have to necessarily always aim at the White House, and federal grand sweeping changes.

 

DW:    Thank you so much for talking with us.  We so appreciate your time and this important work.

 

[1] The Daubert standard is a rule of evidence in federal court regarding when the testimony of expert witnesses can be admitted. Since this interview, the federal MDL judge ruled in plaintiffs’ favor on the Daubert motions.

[2] Editor’s Note: Proposition 65 was enacted in California in 1986.  As part of the law, the state publishes a list of chemicals that are “known to the State of California to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.”

[3] The Johnson case proceeded through trial shortly after this interview and the jury returned a verdict of $289.2 million against Monsanto, including $250 million in punitive damages.

In The Volokh Conspiracy–Allegations of food plant contamination, litigated under seal

Yesterday, our colleague Eugene Volokh wrote at his blog, The Volokh Conspiracy, about a fascinating case involving the employee of a company that contracted to clean food processing plants.  The employee threatened to release some damaging information about a food processing plant at which he had worked and his employer was granted a temporary restraining order to block this release.  The court also granted the company’s request to seal the case.  Volokh raises some super interesting questions, including whether it is appropriate for a dispute regarding the release of information that may seriously affect the public health to be litigated under seal, and the relevance of the allegation that the person seeking to release the information was looking to extort money in exchange for keeping the information secret.

The case is Packers Sanitation Services, Inc. v. Acosta, and you can read the blog post here.

Regeneration: Los Angeles Food Policy Council Discusses Healing and Transforming the Food System

Last week, the Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC) held a community networking event on the concept of regeneration, a broad idea that addresses healing and transforming our food system, and encompasses health, access, human rights, social justice, and animal welfare.  In its description of the event, the LAFPC wrote, “At LAFPC, we envision regeneration as a paradigm shift–one that goes beyond extraction, beyond inputs and outputs and even beyond sustainability. To be regenerative, our food systems need to not only feed people, but restore our planet. Regenerative food systems give birth to new opportunities for transforming our earth, our communities and the people who inhabit them.”

The program included talks by Clare Fox, the Executive Director of the L.A. Food Policy Council, and Gunnar Lovelace, the co-founder and co- CEO of Thrive Market, an online wholesale buying club for organic and natural foods, and “learning hubs,” which divided the attendees into small groups to discuss how regeneration resonated with various aspects of the food system.

The concept of regeneration goes beyond “organic,” “clean,” “natural,” and even beyond “sustainable,” and the conversation at the event ranged from how to indicate such a concept to consumers, to how to create incentives for big agriculture to embrace regeneration, and whether change would start at the individual or systemic level, or both.

To see more LAFPC events, see their website, here.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑