Research Guides List | Databases List

​Food law explores the legal systems that regulate the production, sale, and consumption of food. Common topics of food law include food safety; labelling; genetically modified organisms; environmental concerns; sales regulation; intellectual property rights in food; and the international regulation of food. This guide will specifically refer to resources that may be useful in the Food Law & Policy seminar.
Getting Started
Food law is a general subject governed by many types of law. Researchers should first establish the jurisdiction and scope of their problem. Some problems have an international component to them, such as issues involving geographic indicators, scarcity, and Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) labelling. Other issues are governed by federal, state or local law. Much of U.S. food law is highly regulated by federal agencies. Accordingly, researchers will often find that starting at the website of the agency that regulates the issue in question (often the FDA or the USDA) will get them started on the right track.

While starting with food law-specific sources may be helpful, much of food law may be described as another substantive area of law but merely dealing with food. For example, an issue involving the deregulation of a GMO has as much to do with food law as it does administrative law. As such, it will likely be helpful for a researcher to explore resources that deal with administrative law and apply those same principals to the specific food law issue. Similarly, when working with issues related to geographic indicators, food libel, or seed patents, a researcher would benefit from looking to an international intellectual property, constitutional law, or patent law treatise, respectively. With that in mind, researchers should take some time to see if their issues involve other major areas of law that may have their own treatises. Food law issues can crop up in a lot of different practice areas, and researchers shouldn't limit themselves to resources that have the word "food" in their title.

As mentioned, much of U.S. food law is regulatory in nature. Accordingly, familiarity with general administrative law prinicipals will help researchers navigate the different rule-making and agency decision processes. Depending on your level of familiarity with the area, you may want to consult an administrative law hornbook or nutshell (both are on reserve at the Circulation Desk). Or, for Colorado agencies, please see our Colorado Administrative Law Guide.

Finally, many food law issues intersect or overlap with environmental concerns. In both areas of law, particularly when dealing with regulatory agencies, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of the science involved. For example, it will generally be difficult to understand legal issues surrounding seed patents without knowing anything about seeds. Thankfully, many of the resources listed below will provide some basic science background for the areas they cover. However, be sure to look to the agriculture or environmental sciences literature and resources if you do not have a good grasp of the underlying scientific issues in your research problem.
Background Information
National Agricultural Law Center, Congressional Research Service Reports
The Congressional Research Service (CRS), a nonpartisan department within the Library of Congress, creates reports to inform Congress about various issues. The reports provide legal and nonlegal analysis of a wide array of issues, and can provide a good overview of a topic. The National Agricultural Law Center has collected many of these reports and indexed them under common topics. The National Agricultural Law Center also writes its own publications available here.  

Food, Farming, and Sustainability: Readings in Agricultural Law, Susan A. Schneider, LAW STACKS 1st floor  KF 1682 .S36 2011  & LAW COURSE RESERVE (Marks) 2016
Food, Farming, and Sustainability was written as a text book to be used in an agricultural & food law course at the University of Arkansas School of Law Agricultural & Food Law LL.M Program. The work covers many sustainable food & agriculture law issues, including: environmental effects; animal welfare; biotechnology and agriculture; and the regulation of organic food. In addition to sustainable agriculture issues, the text discusses other agriculture issues including financing and crop insurance.

Food & Drug Administration, Third Edition, James T. O’Reilly, Available on Westlaw (be sure you are looking at the secondary sources and not the primary materials from the FDA which uses the same name)
This treatise covers the background of the FDA, FDA procedure, substantive areas such as food safety, food additives, products liability, and more.  The text is easy to read and full of citations to primary authority. This would be a good place to start when researching anything related to the FDA.

Food and Drug Law, Roseann B. Termini, Law Stacks 1st Floor KF 3869 .T472 9th 2017
This treatise covers twelve subjects regulated by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic act.  It is intended for regulated entities, government personnel, and attorneys who practice in this space.  To that end, it provides helpful analysis and citations to relevant primary authority throughout the work.

A Consumer’s Guide to Food Regulation & Safety, James T. O’Reilly,  LAW STACKS 1st floor  KF 3875 .Z9 O74 2010  
This title is designed for consumers (i.e., non-attorneys) and contains easy to digest information about food regulation in the United States. While the book does not contain a lot of citaitons, it will provide a high-level overview making it good for someone who is new to this area of law. The appendix also includes some relevant federal statutes.

Agrobiodiversity and the Law: Regulating Genetic Resources, Food Security and Cultural Diversity, Juliana Santilli, LAW STACKS basement  K 3876 .S26 2012
This book, written by a Brazilian law professor, contains valuable bilbiographies and reads like a political science text. This is particularly valuable for providing an international perspective on food law issues.

Guide to US Food Laws and Regulations, Patricia A. Curitis, LAW STACKS 1st floor KF 3870 .C85 2013  
This guide is intended for those in the food industry. It provides plain-english explanations of the U.S. food regulatory framework, and is meant to be very pratical. It does not contain a lot of footnotes, but would provide a good overview of the topic. It also includes information about Kosher and Halal food laws.

The A-Z Encyclopedia of Food Controversies and the Law, Elizabeth M. Williams and Stephanie Jane Carter, LAW STACKS 1st floor  KF 3869 .W55 2011 
This two-volume set catalogs food controversies and how our legal system is handling them. This would be a great resource for finding a paper topic as many of the controversies have yet to be resolved. The source contains some footnotes for further readings and case excerpts.

Center for Food Safety
This site contains information on GE crops, food labeling, food safety, and litigation in those areas.
Note: this website contains useful information, but certainly has an agenda. With that in mind, information from this site should be evaluated closely.
Organic Issues
A Legal Guide to the National Organic Program
This guide examines the legal aspects of the National Organic Program with a focus on the program's requirements. It is written for lawyers and non-lawyers.  Consequently, it is easy to follow and provides citations to primary law while distilling the requirements of the program.
Organic Agricultural Products: Marketing and Trade Resources
A series of guides compiled by the National Agricultural Library at the USDA. They provide links to material covering the marketing and trade of organic foods both in the U.S. and internationally.
Genetically Modified Organisms
Note: genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetifically engineered crops (GE) are used interchangeably in this area. Researchers should search for both abbreviations for best results.

Seed Wars, Keith Aoki, LAW STACKS basement  K 3876 .A955 2008 
This book provides a comprehensive and readable account of many of the issues surrounding the cultivation, intellectual property rights, and sale of seeds.
Governing Risk in GM Agriculture, Michael Baram, Mathilde Bourrier, LAW STACKS basement  K 3927 .G68 2011  
This book addresses the issues and methods involved in governing risks posed by genetically modified (GM) agriculture. It examines the evolution of policies intended to ensure the safety of GM crops and food products in the United States to and Europe, and the regulatory approaches and other social controls employed to protect human health, the environment, conventional farming and foods, and the interest and rights of consumers.
The Regulation of Genetically Modified Organisms : Comparative Approaches, Luc Bodiguel & Michael Cardwell, LAW STACKS basement  K 3927 .R44 2010  
This collection of essays describes the international regulation and economics of GMOs. It contains a table of cases and a thorough index. It is a great resource for anyone interested in how GMOs effect trade with other nations or for those looking for an international perspective on GMOs.
Geographical Indications
International Encyclopaedia of Laws - Intellectual Property This source provides country-by-country information on Intellectual property laws, including trademark law. It includes synopses of the laws of the respective countries as well as citations to the primary source materials.
Geographical Indications and WTO Negotiations, Library of Congress, CRS.
World Trade Organization, TRIPS: Geographical Indications.
A Handbook on the WTO TRIPS AgreementLAW STACKS basement  K 1401 .H365 2012
Contains a chapter on Geographical Indications and Enforcement.
USPTO Office of Policy and International Affairs – Geographic Indications Protection

International Trademark Treaties with Commentary, Ellen P. Winner & Aaron W. Denberg, LAW STACKS basement  K 1553 .W56 2004.
This is a good resource for those interested in international trademark treaties and how they might interact with geographic indicators. Particular attention is paid to enforcing trademarks in the international context.
Other International Food Law
Food Safety Standards in International Trade, Onsando Osiemo, LAW STACKS basement K 3626 .O85 2017
This academic book address food safety standards specifically focusing on food exported from Africa to the European Union.  It discusses the effect international trade agreements have on that trade.

State Food Crimes, Rhoda E. Howard-Hassman, LAW STACKS basement K 3260 .H69 2016
This work analyzes historical and contemporary examples of state action that resulted in faminine or starvation, and then explores ways international law might address those issues.  
Selected Federal Statutes & Regulations
Organic Food Production Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 6501-6522
- 7 C.F.R. Part 205, National Organic Program (NOP), additional regulations used to administer NOP can be found here.

The Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. § 54
- USDA, 9 C.F.R. Ch 1, Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS): APHIS also governs the deregulation of GE Crops

Plant Protection Act (PPA), 7 U.S.C. §§ 7701-86; Title VI of the Agriculture Protection Act P.L. 106-224
- USDA, 7 C.F.R. Part 340: Introduction of Organism & Products Altered or Produced Through Genetic Engineering Which are Plant Pests or Which There is Reason to Believe are Plant Pests Plant Variety Protection Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 2321-2582

Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, ad Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U.S.C. Chp. 6

- US EPA, 40 C.F.R. Parts 152 & 174: Pesticide Registration & Classification; 40 C.F.R. Part 172: Experimental Use Permits

Federal Food, Drug, & Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), 21 U.S.C. Chp. 9
- see Legislative History of the Federal Food, Drug, & Cosmetic Act & Its Amendments on HeinOnline
- USFDA, Statement of policy: Foods Derived From New Plant Varieties (1992).
- USFDA, Consultation Procedures under FDA’s 1992 Statement of Policy (1997).

Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), 15 U.S.C. Chp. 53
- USEPA, 40 C.F.R. Part 725: Reporting Requirements & Review Processes for Microorganisms National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq.

Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq.
USEPA, Implementation Guidance on CAFO Regulations.

Additionally the EPA has created a matrix of laws that could affect agricultural producers available here.
Selected Colorado Statutes & Regulations
Colorado Food and Drug Act, C.R.S. 25-5-401 et seq.
Food Protection Act, C.R.S. 25-4-1601 et seq
- Colorado Retail Food Establishment Rules and Regulations, 6 CCR 1010-2
Colorado Food Regulations and Guidelines, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Current Awareness Tools
National Agriculture Coalition Blog
This is an active blog from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities) that includes new regulations, proposed bills, and other news related to sustainable agriculture issues.
The Ag & Food Law Blog, National Agricultural Law Center & American Agricultural Law Association, 
This blog describes itself as a comprehensive news, research, and information resource for the nation’s agricultural community. It also links to many other related blogs.
Agricultural Law, Official Blog of the AALS Section on Agricultural Law,
This blog is a member of the Jurisdynamics network (a collection of law blogs) and is updated by agriculture law academics, including Susan Schneider, the editor of Food, Farming, and Sustainability noted above.
AgMag Blog, Environmental Working Group
This is an active blog from an environmental policy group with a focus on agriculture and food. It is not focused on the practice of law, but it is a good source for many agriculture issues.
Topical Law Reviews and Journals
Drake Journal of Agricultural Law Sustainable Development Law Journal
Environmental Law Animal Law
San Joaquin Agricultural Law Review Food and Drug Law Journals
Journal of Food Law & Policy Food, Drug, Cosmetic Law Quarterly
Food, Drug, Cosmetic Law Journal Harvard Environmental Law Review
Kentucky Journal of Equine, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Law
Note: be sure to look beyond these journals.  Food law issues regularly appear in nontopical journals.
Other Guides
University of Arkansas School of Law Research Guides: Agricultural Law & Food Law
These guides provide access points to federal and state statutes, rules, and agency websites. They also link to websites for research consortia, blogs, scientific information, and bibliographies.
Georgetown Law Library: Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Law Research Guide
This guide focuses on the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and subsequent regulations.
Subject Specialist
Picture: Nick Harrell

Nick Harrell
Student Services & Outreach Librarian
Tel: 303 4924649

Key to Icons

Restricted Resource = Restricted resource
Some full text available = Some full text
openURL = OpenURL enabled

Resource contains images = Images
Resource contains video = Video files
Resource contains audio = Audio files