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Issue Lunches

Lunch will be provided to all conference participants in groups of 10-25.  Each group will discuss some discrete issue affecting access to healthy food in the United States and around the world.  Please sign up for one of the following issue lunches when you register for the conference:
1.  Alternative Intellectual Property Regimes for Genetically Modified Seeds
The current intellectual property regime for bioengineered seeds has been criticized, among other reasons, for locking farmers into economically exploitative relationships with global agribusinesses.  Are these and other criticisms of the current IP regime for food biotechnology founded?  If so, what are the best alternative regimes?

Facilitator: Daniel Kevles, History Department, Yale University

2.  "Between Starvation & Globalization" - Realizing the Right to Food
Can public interest litigation be used to secure the human right to food? What is the role of legislatures in securing food access? Of judicial monitoring? Community action? This lunch discussion is aimed at crafting a model for human rights action that might be applied around the world, through studying the right to food case in India. India stands out as one of the only countries in the world to find the right to food justiciable and to find that it is a component of the right to life. In addition, the right to food case in India sets forth a multi-part process that includes the identification of a right, concrete explication of what that right means in policy terms, subsequent court monitored implementation, and a symbiotic and fruitful interaction between the judiciary, civil society, and now the legislature.

Facilitators: Lauren Birchfield & Jessica Corsi, UN Development Programme & Harvard Law School 

3.  Farm Subsidies in a Post-New Deal Era

During the Great Depression, the federal government put in place a great number of agricultural subsidies. During this lunch, we will discuss the history of these subsidies, from the New Deal forward. Comparing current agricultural subsidies to those of the past, we will discuss the benefits and problems of such policies.

Facilitators:  David Lebowitz & Suzanne Love, Yale Human Rights & Development Law Journal

4. FEED Foundation Workshop: Ideas for Long-Term Investment in Food System Change
Participants in this lunch session will join FEED Director and former World Food Program spokesperson Ellen Gustafson in brainstorming ideas for the FEED Foundation's upcoming 30 Project: a campaign focused on long-term investment in food system change. The FEED Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to ensuring healthful, nutritious food for all children as a first step towards a sustainable global food system. As part of the 30 Project campaign, FEED will be funding long-term food system interventions, both domestically and internationally. What might be appropriate priorities for such a campaign? How are food access issues similar at home and abroad - and are there cross-cutting strategies that foundations like FEED should be supporting?

Facilitator: Ellen Gustafson, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the FEED Foundation.

5.  Food Labeling: Is Less More?
Has the myriad of different health and nutrition claims on food packaging created too much complexity and confusion to be useful to consumers? Should the U.S. move to a more simplified but standardized food labeling system? Who should set and enforce the standards? In setting the regulatory boundaries, what is the right balance between protecting health and promoting information with protecting speech rights and promoting innovation? Even if this ideal can be agreed upon, will this really affect change in consumer behavior? Are we fighting in the wrong arena - does awareness of nutritional information actually change dietary habits and desires? To inform our discussion of these questions, we'll explore the UK's "traffic light" food system and the experiences of other countries that have experimented with innovative labeling reforms. 

Facilitator: Lang Liu, the Yale Forum on International Law & The San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project

6.  Healthy Food Systems through Local & State Policy Innovation
State, and by extension, local governments are known as the “laboratories of democracy,” where innovative policies can be tested and tweaked before taking a more national stage. What local and state laws and policies have been used to improve food systems around the country? How can federal policy lower barriers to further innovation in local food systems? What innovative policy ideas have yet to be tested?

Facilitator: Christine Fry, National Policy & Legal Analysis Network  to Prevent Childhood Obesity

7.  Healthy Kids, Sustainable Schools
Bringing good, clean food to kids - or better yet, having them grow it, has found a large place in the conversation about building a sustainable food system. From the grassroots efforts around the country to the White House garden to nacho cheese poured right in the Fritos bag, this discussion will focus on what's happening at a policy level, what's happening locally, and what's actually ending up on the plates of America's youth.

Facilitator: Justin Freiberg, Public Schools Pilot Program

8.   Mind the Gap: Infrastructure Gaps in the Food System
What are the infrastructure challenges that hinder small and medium sized food producers from bringing their products to market? What should we do about rules governing processing and slaughterhouses that make it challenging for smaller growers to get their food to you? Connecticut's lack of a USDA certified beef/pork processing facility is a perfect example of this challenge.

Facilitator: Kristin Carroll Tracz, Coalition on Agriculture Food and the Environment (CAFE)

9.  New Haven: A Case Study in Local Access to Healthy Food
How can we assure access to healthy food in our communities? This February, Shaw's announced that its New Haven location would close without a buyer to replace it. The departure has left a hole in the local economy, and mobilized community members to find a solution. Questions to consider include: What are alternatives to a supermarket model? How can we make the healthy food that is available more attractive to consumers with different cultures, backgrounds, and relationships to food? What is keeping a supermarket from buying the space in New Haven? Who is responsible for addressing these issues?

Facilitator: Caity Richards, Yale Sustainable Food Project Student Volunteer Coalition

10.  Organic Farming: The Why and the How

What exactly are the benefits of organic farming, and how important are they?  Should a vision for healthy and sustainable food systems insist upon a return to organic farming?

Facilitator: Bill Duesing, New England Organic Farmers Association

11.  Promising Health: How Food Manufacturers Make Misleading Claims and Get Away With It
American consumers are more health-conscious than ever. Worries about obesity, the flu and the sustainability of our diets permeate all parts of our lives and inform many of our purchasing decisions. In recent years, food manufacturers have exploited these concerns with a variety of prominent packaging claims and advertising campaigns, ranging from misleading to flat-out fraudulent. From Cocoa Krispies claiming to support your child's immune system, to Juicy Juice promising to boost infants' brain development, to a Colorado farm selling regular milk promoted as organic, food producers, big and small, are determined to increase their share of the marketplace by promoting their products as 'healthy.' How are they able to do so with no repercussions? In this lunch, we will discuss the statutory loopholes that allow these claims to thrive, what the FDA is doing about them, and innovative ways to combat the effectiveness of these campaigns through affirmative litigation, consumer awareness, and marketplace pressures.

Facilitators: Ester Murdukhayeva and Alice Shih, San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project

12.   Urban Farming
The concept of “urban agriculture” has emerged as a strategy for promoting access to fresh fruits and vegetables (and even locally raised meat and eggs) in and around densely populated cities.  What are the most cutting-edge techniques practiced by urban farmers in the developed and developing world?  What laws or policies might be employed to maximize the benefits of urban agriculture?

: Melina Shannon De-Pietro, Yale Sustainable Food Project

13. Why (and how) local?
What exactly are the benefits of buying and consuming local food?  Reducing carbon footprints?  Entering into healthy relationships with the means of food production?  Stimulating rural economic development?  What are the soundest policies (and policy rationales) for promoting the development of local and regional food systems?  Should developing countries adopt policies to stimulate and protect domestic farming?

Facilitator: Erin Wirpsa Eisenberg, CitySeed