Texas A&M Law Review


James Ming Chen

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This Essay takes stock of humanity’s arguably illusory victory over its old Malthusian foe. Having staved off imminent starvation, wealthy consumers in the United States and other developed nations are now free to focus their legal and political energy on the expressive aspects of food. Such bagatelles come at the price of ignoring deeper threats to the ecological and economic underpinnings of agricultural production. Had we world enough and time, food as ornament would be no crime. The onset of the Anthropocene, however, demands more serious attention to older, more venerable sources of concern. Resource exhaustion and evolutionary biology remain poised to deliver crippling blows to the agricultural system that serves as life support for affluent, industrialized society. As existential threats loom, the continued allure of purely symbolic disputes suggests that agricultural law remains content, quite literally, to bet the farm.

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