Innovation is rapidly shifting the landscape of food production and consumption in the United States and globally. Innovation covers a broad range of activity within the food sector. Technological advances have led to a range of new products—for example, plant-based meat and dairy, edible insects, GM foods, and cultured meat, among others—that the law does not yet know how to address. Technology has also changed how we grow food, how we procure food, and how we invest in food, from apps that can optimize soil quality for production, to fresh food home delivery, to barcode scanning to determine a product’s supply chain, to venture capital and impact investing in purpose-driven food companies.
At the same time, food has increasingly become a platform for both self-expression and political engagement. For the first time ever, millennials believe they can effect greater change with how they spend their money than with how they cast their votes. This generation, which now constitutes the bulk of the workforce and consumer base, increasingly values purchasing nutritious, sustainable, and socially just products that are also reasonably priced. Companies are under mounting pressure to innovate in response to meet these demands.
How we innovate now and the legal framework we adopt in response will profoundly shape our food system. This one-day conference will convene an interdisciplinary group of experts from law, politics, science, and industry to discuss issues in food innovation and consider the ramifications for navigating this next frontier in food. It will take a broad approach to innovation and explore the implications for a range of stakeholders, including the government, sustainability and the environment, corporate law, entrepreneurship, animal law, and non-profits, among other areas.