Tuesday, October 29, 2013

State GMO Labeling Laws Present Unanswered Legal Questions

At least 20 states have considered bills requiring labeling for genetically modified (GMO) foods in the past few years.  California's Prop 37 was the most notorious of these proposed laws, but it was defeated by referendum in November 2012.  This hasn't stopped GMO opponents in other states from seeking to pass laws requiring the labeling of GMO containing food.  This raises two questions: First, why doesn't the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) require GMO labels?  Second, is it even legal for states to create their own GMO labels?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Why the Chesapeake Bay Matters to Midwestern Farmers

I just returned from the American Bar Association's annual fall environmental conference. This year's conference was in Baltimore, at the north end of the Chesapeake Bay.  Needless to say that the environmental condition of the bay and the controversy surrounding it were the talk of the conference.  If you don't understand why what happens in the Chesapeake Bay may affect you, read on.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Modern Agriculture's Big Five Issues (and How the Law is Reacting to Them)

For this next year, I’m serving as the chair of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Agricultural Management Committee. The Committee is part of the wider ABA Section on the Environment, Energy and Resources and focuses on cutting-edge issues involving agriculture and the environment, including biotechnology, livestock, sustainability, and food safety. One of the chair’s duties is to create an Action Plan, identifying the five top issues related to agriculture and the environment. Here’s my list and brief explanation of the laws that these issues affect.

Wetlands and Agriculture: An Overview of Swampbuster

"Swampbuster." It is a fun word. However, it can cause some not-so-fun repercussions for farmers who violate its rules protecting wetlands. Swampbuster is the term used for the federal law that discourages farmers from altering wetlands by withholding federal farm program benefits from any person who: (1) plants an agricultural commodity on a converted wetland that was converted by drainage, dredging, leveling, or any other means; or (2) converts a wetland for the purpose of or to make agricultural commodity production possible. See 16 U.S.C.§ 3821.