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Chair of Food Law | Prof Dr Kai Purnhagen LLM

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Welcome to the World of Food Law 

 "Without a great food systems transformation, the world will fail to deliver both on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement." (Johan Rockström, Ottmar Edenhofer, Juliana Gaertner & Fabrice DeClerck, Planet-proofing the global food system, 1 Nature Food, 3 (2020)

Chair of Law and Food Law

We live in a world of unprecedented challenges, one of which concerns the governance of our food systems. While our lives depend on the availability and healthy consumption of food, the ways in which we currently produce, sell and consume food are the subject of considerable criticism. The food system is in urgent need of transformation, particularly within the world's large largest and most impactful market, the European Union.

Law plays an integral part in such a transformation. Law regulates such vastly complex food systems, which include private and public actors across geographical and legal boundaries in order to solve and prevent problems of food safety, food security and the related external effects. Not all of the rules are captured by the field that we usually refer to as “food law”. In a conventional reading, food law consists of the rules that govern food value chains. To understand the regulation of our food system as a whole, food lawyers need to also incorporate, among others, the environmental aspects of food production and related legal provisions, financial market regulation, competition law, intellectual property law, human rights law and international private law into their work.

These connections are not only determined by law. Food has cultural, natural and societal implications. Food law hence permeates a number of different (research) areas which are conventionally not assessed together. To determine a legally required appropriate level of protection, for example, insights from natural science are helpful. Research from behavioral sciences and data sciences determines if legal provisions are really designed in a way to enable better information of consumers. Other disciplines such as economics, political sciences and sociology can likewise help us to determine if the law reaches its envisaged goals and how we should interpret, understand and make law.

This interdisciplinary research is needed more than ever. The legal rules that regulate our food system reflect political choices regarding the control of our food supply and the goals that the global food system should strive for. In terms of goals, we are, and arguably have been for some time, at a crossroads. Desiging the law in a way which makes certain that the right path at this crossroad is chosen to match these goals is the main mission of this chair. Come and join us on this mission.

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