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Fall 2019: Course offered on federal regulation of food and agriculture

flyer advertizing course on regulationGenetic engineering, gene editing, cloning, cell-cultured meat, production of novel proteins in microorganisms and plants, conventional
products — they’re all regulated by federal agencies. This course — offered only in fall 2019 — will explore federal regulatory oversight from research and product development to consumer purchases.

FSC 4940 — Federal Regulation of Food and Agriculture
Tuesday – 2:20 PM – 4:25 PM; Thursday – 3:35 PM to 4:25 PM (Fall 2019)
Gregory Jaffe – Visiting Professor of Practice

Course Description:

This course will introduce students to the major federal statutes that oversee food and agriculture and their policy objectives.  The course will explore federal oversight beginning in the laboratory, follow it through product development and production, and conclude with impacts on the final products purchased by the consumer, covering laws implemented by FDA, USDA, and EPA.  To make application of those laws and regulations relevant to today’s agricultural research and food products, the course will discuss federal oversight as it applies to new food and agriculture technologies, focusing on case studies involving topics such as genetically engineered crops, cloned animals, gene editing, cell cultured meat, and the production of novel proteins in microorganisms and plants.  It will also cover labeling issues such as organic, natural, as well as the applicability of standards of identity.  By the end of the course, students will understand how federal oversight may play a role in their future careers and how to prepare for those interactions.  They will understand the role of science in regulation and policy and how to actively engage as regulations are developed.  Finally, the course will explore the delicate balance between regulation that ensures safety and consumer confidence but does not stifle innovation nor unnecessarily alarm consumers.  The course will involve lectures, class discussion, and student presentations.  This course is geared towards juniors, seniors, and graduate students but open to others with the permission of the instructor.

Learning Outcomes:

As a result of taking this course, students will:

  • Explain the different federal laws that oversee research, product development, and marketing of food and agricultural products;
  • Analyze how the different laws and regulations apply to new food and agricultural technologies and articulate science and policy arguments about the benefits and impacts of that oversight or lack of oversight;
  • Explain the different opportunities available for scientists and the public to influence regulatory agency decisions and how to effectively take advantage of those opportunities; and
  • Find and critically evaluate which laws and regulations might apply to activities during future employment.


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