In This Issue

Environment

Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Policy

What, where, and how we grow our food transcends more than nutrition and safety. With a global population increase of approximately 2 billion people expected by mid-century and changing demographics worldwide (with the majority of the population now living in urban centers), how to produce food for the children of the twenty-first century is becoming a dominant global question. This article briefly reviews how agricultural policy has become increasingly linked to environmental policy.

Environment

Where Is “Agronanotechnology” Heading in the United States and European Union?

Adoption of nanotechnologies can enable and transform modern agricultural practices in many broad areas. The regulation of engineered nanomaterials in food, food contact substances and pesticides has many elements that have been commonly approached internationally; however, there are many aspects—both international and regional—where lack of regulatory harmonization and empirical data are impeding global strategies for products commercializing nanotechnologies.

Environment

Impacts of Agricultural GMOs on Wildlands: A New Frontier of Biotech Litigation

The variety and application of genetically modified (GM) organisms in agriculture continues to expand at a rapid rate. With continued introductions and ever greater diversity of GM plants, animals, and microbes, the possibility of inadvertent release of transgenes into wildlands will similarly increase. Genetically modified plants, animals, or microbes have the potential to impact the environment through invasiveness of the GMO or of organisms with which it hybridizes, loss of biodiversity, and adverse effects on non-target organisms.

Environment

FIFRA v. the Courts: Redefining Federal Pesticide Policy, One Case at a Time

Federal courts have issued a series of significant decisions subjecting federal pesticide regulatory policy under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to the procedural and substantive requirements of other federal environmental laws and state common law principles. Courts have also allowed plaintiffs to use state common-law tort theories to challenge the adequacy of federally-approved pesticide labels.

Environment

Expanding Regulation of Pesticide Applications under the Clean Water Act

For years, pesticide applicators were not required to apply for NPDES permits when making pesticide applications, which EPA attempted to memorialize in a 2006 rulemaking. The recent 6th Circuit decision in National Cotton Council overturned this rule, opening the door for CWA regulation of pesticide applications. Since that time, EPA has promulgated a draft general NPDES permit, which in many ways asks more questions than it answers.

Environment

Regulation of Nonpoint Source Agricultural Discharge in California

Regulation of nonpoint waste-water discharge from agriculture in California has evolved from statutes not initially intended for that type of control. Production agriculture as well as Concentrated Animal Feeding (CAFO) operations are the main targets for these regulations. Under the state’s Porter-Cologne Act, Regional Water Quality Control Boards have developed differing approaches to such regulation.

Environment

No Free Pass: Putting the “Bio” in Biomass

Ambitious mandates in the United States and Europe for bioenergy and GHG regulation of mobile and stationary sources have lead to fears that emphasis on biomass feedstocks for fuel and electricity may increase net GHG emissions from uncontrolled direct and indirect land use change–contrary to the notion of “bio” energy. Industrialized energy biomass production may impact negatively other environmental and socio-economic values.

Environment

Understanding and Interpreting Right to Farm Laws

Since the 1970s, states have utilized right to farm laws to help protect agricultural producers from nuisance-type lawsuits, essentially codifying the common-law defense of "coming to the nuisance." Each state's right to farm law, although aimed at the same goal, is formulated differently, and right to farm defenses have been subject to challenges, with regard to their constitutionality, effectiveness, and interplay with state and federal regulatory schemes.

Environment

Climate Change: Impacts on Food Safety

This article examines current climate predictions and how climate shifts in various regions may impact global agricultural production and food security. It concludes that agricultural practices will need to be modified or adapted to correlate with anticipated shifts in weather patterns if food security is to be maintained into the future. The article closes by discussing various adaptation efforts that could help to maintain global food security in the face of evolving climate conditions.

Departments

Insights

Environment

New Guidance on Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

Since 2001 SWANCC and Rapanos, the implementation and enforcement of basic federal water pollution provisions have been hampered by uncertainty. Guidance issued in 2003 and 2008 did little to clear this uncertainty or provide adequate levels of water quality protection. Moreover, efforts at a congressional fix have stalled. EPA and the Corps have recently issued proposed new guidance that promises to give more clarity on the scope of waters the CWA protects.

Environment

Mining No Longer a Preferred Land Use in Michigan

Despite zoning being a solely legislative function, the Michigan courts have long judicially reviewed zoning ordinances that regulate mining. The courts viewed mining as a special land use problem because a particular piece of land is where a particular mineral is. Mining cannot occur where the mineral is not. The courts used a more rigorous reasonableness standard that reviewed the impact on the community, instead of the reasonableness of the ordinance. In July 2010, the Michigan Supreme Court overturned this body of case law.