Michael T. Roberts

Executive Director of the Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy,
Professor from Practice

  • B.S. University of Utah, 1986
  • J.D. University of Utah, 1989
  • LL.M. University of Arkansas, 2000

Michael T. Roberts is the founding Executive Director of the Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law. He is well versed in a broad range of legal and policy issues from farm to fork in local, national, and global food supply systems. He has authored the first major treatise on food law, titled, Food Law in the United States, published by Cambridge University Press. He is also co-editor of Food Law & Policy, a new casebook published by Wolters Kluwer. He has also written several other chapters, articles, and papers on food law topics.

Roberts is actively involved in the development of food law and policy. He has lectured on food-law subjects at law schools and conferences in a number of countries, including the U.S., China, Korea, United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Spain, Romania, and Russia. He is a Research Fellow for Renmin University School of Law’s Center for Coordination and Innovation for Food Safety. He is an Adjunct Professor of Law for East China University of Science and Technology (Shanghai), where he lectures annually on food law topics.

Roberts is particularly interested in the global governance of food and recently led the Resnick Center into a partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on a series of research and advisory initiatives to confront global food security, nutrition, safety, and quality. Roberts is also very involved in the development of the history of food law and is working on a number of projects to this end and in the regulation of food and innovation.

In addition to working with the Advisory Board for the Resnick Center, Roberts serves on various boards related to food law and policy. He is member of the Board of Directors for the newly established non-profit, Feed the Truth organization. He is also a founding board member and historian for the Academy for Food Law and Policy and on the  advisory board for the World Food Law Institute.

Roberts entered the field of food law when, in 2000, he left his law practice and enrolled in the LL.M. program on agricultural law at the University of Arkansas School of Law, the only such program in the U.S. Since then, Roberts has engaged in a variety of professional capacities related to food law and policy. A few years after completing the LL.M. program, he was invited to join the University of Arkansas School of Law as a Research Professor of Law and as the Director of the National Agricultural Law Center, where he taught food law and policy and founded the law school's Journal of Food Law and Policy. He is the former first chair of the Lex Mundi (world's largest association of private law firms) international Agribusiness practice group. Roberts also was of counsel in Washington D.C. with Venable LLP, as a member of the firm's food and agricultural law practice group, and special counsel to the Roll Global farming and food companies headquartered in Los Angeles, where he was responsible for global food regulation, trade, and public policy. He was also a visiting scholar and consultant to the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome.

Roberts teaches two courses at UCLA Law: Introduction to Food Law and Policy (for second and third year law students) and Historical Perspective: The Role of Law in the Pursuit of a Moral Food System (a “modes” class for first year law students). He has also been instrumental in the organization of a food studies certificate graduate program at UCLA and was the co-instructor of the program’s Introduction to Food Studies course.

Bibliography

  • Articles And Chapters
    • A "Food Systems Thinking” Roadmap for Policymakers and Retailers to Save the Eco-System by Saving the Endangered Honey Producer from the Devastating Consequences of Honey Fraud, Social Science Research Network (2019). SSRN | Full Text
    • US Food Law: Responding to Changing Social Conditions, in European and Global Food Law (Wolters Kluwer, 2017).
    • The Pursuit of Food Authenticity: Recommended Legal and Policy Strategies to Eradicated Economically Motivated Adulteration (Food Fraud) (with Whitney Turk), Social Science Research Network (2016). SSRN | Full Text
    • 2016 China Food Law Update (with Ching-Fu Lin), 12 Journal of Food Law & Policy 238 (2016). Full Text
    • Genetically Modified Food Labeling in China: In Pursuit of a Rational Path (with Xiao Zhu and Kajie Wu), 71 Food and Drug Law Journal 30 (2016).
    • Foreword, in International Food Law & Policy (edited by Gabriela Steier and Kiran Patel, Springer, 2016).
    • Setting the Table for Urban Agriculture (with Margot Pollans), in Urban Agriculture: Policy, Law, Strategy, and Implementation (American Bar Association, 2015). Full Text
    • The Beginnings of the Journal of Food Law & Policy, 11 Journal of Food Law & Policy 1 (2015).
    • If Sugar Is Addictive...What Does It Mean for the Law? (with Ashley Gearhardt and Marice Ashe), 41 Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 46 (2013).
    • Comparison of EU and U.S. Law on Sustainable Food Processing (with Emilie H. Leibovitch), in Alternatives to Conventional Food Processing (edited by Andrew Proctor, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2011).
    • A Perspective on Emerging Law: Consumer Trust and Social Responsibility in China’s Food Sector: the “Bleaching” Case Study, 66 Food and Drug Law Journal 405 (2011).
    • Cheaters Shouldn’t Prosper: The Need for FDA to Protect Public Health by Taking Action Against Global Economic Adulteration of Pomegranate Juice, 6 Journal of Food Law & Policy 189 (Fall 2010).
    • Technical Regulations and Trade: Current Issues, Trends and Long-Term Prospects and the Compatibility of Private Standards With Multilateral Trade Rules: Legal Issues at State, in The Evolving Structure of World Agricultural Trade: Implications for Trade Policy and Trade Agreements (UN, FAO, 2009).
    • U.S. Wine Regulation: Responding to Pressures and Trends in a Global Food System, Rivista Di Diritto Agrario (“Agricultural Law Review”) (2008).
    • International Legal Issues Concerning Animal Cloning and Nanotechnology: More of the Same or Are “The Times They Are A-Changin"?, National Agricultural Law Center (2008).
    • Role of Regulation in Minimizing Terrorist Threats Against the Food Supply: Information, Incentives, and Penalties, 8 Minnesota Journal of Law, Science, and Technology 199 (2007).
    • Introduction to Food Law in the People’s Republic of China, National Agricultural Law Center (2007).
    • Unintended Risks to Developing Countries From Privatization of Global Agriculture and Food Sustainability Standards, World Food Law Institute Selected Symposium & Round Table Papers (2007).
    • Food Law Update, 2 Journal of Food Law & Policy (Spring 2006); 1 Journal of Food Law & Policy 517 (Fall 2005); 1 Journal of Food Law & Policy 187 (Spring 2005).
    • Food and Drug Protective Measures, Chapter 16, in Homeland Security Deskbook (LexisNexis, 2004).
    • Mandatory Food Recall: A Sensible and Minimalist Approach to Improving Food Safety, 59 Food and Drug Law Journal 563 (2004).
    • Anatomy of the Government’s Role in the Recall of Unsafe Food Products, National Agricultural Law Center Research Articles (April 2004).
    • J.E.M. Ag Supply, Inc. v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.: It’s Meaning and Significance for the Agricultural Community 28 Southern Illinois University Law Journal 91 (Fall 2003).
    • Derecho Agrario, 18 Agro Enfoque 74 (March 2003). (Spanish translated text in Peruvian publication; article addresses agricultural biotechnology law issues in Developing Countries)
    • The Unique Role of State Trading Enterprises in World Agricultural Trade: Sifting Through the Rhetoric, 6 Drake Journal of Agricultural Law 287 (Fall 2001).
  • Books
    • Food Law: Cases and Materials (with Jacob E. Gersen and Margot J. Pollans). Wolters Kluwer (2019). Book Info
    • Food Law in the United States. Cambridge University Press (2016). Book Info
  • Other
    • Science Report Scandal Could Lead to Lawsuits That Hold Sugary Beverage Industry Accountable, NY Daily News (Nov. 1, 2016). Full Text
    • Role of Regulation in Minimizing Terrorist Threats Against the Food Supply, American Bar Association Homeland Security and National Defense Newsletter (Fall 2007).
    • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: A Legal Guide to Avoiding the Perils of Publishing Agriculture Sustainability Standards in the Agri-Food Sector, White Paper (Feb. 2007). Also published in Food and Drink Magazine and Food Traceability Report.
    • How to Prevent More Tainted Spinach, Philadelphia Inquirer (Oct. 4, 2006).
    • Animal Identification: Confidentiality of Information, Livestock Marketing and Information Center (Oct. 2004).
    • Animal Identification: Liability Exposure and Risk Management, Livestock Marketing and Information Center (Oct. 2004).
    • Food Traceability & Assurance in the Global Food System, Farm Foundation’s Traceability and Assurance Panel Report (July 2004).