Post Pandemic Global Food Law

Post Pandemic Global Food Law: Neal Fortin, Director of MSU's Institute for Food Laws and Regulations, says knowledge of global food law will be more important than before. Firms will have to nimbly avoid disruptions in the supply chain.

Image of a shipping port with world map superimposed above.

We will get through this pandemic. The shock we experience makes this time of crisis seem like forever. However, it is important to remind ourselves that we will get through it. Everything will return to normal - mostly - but there will be impressions and cultural shifts that remain far beyond the absence of the disease.

To paraphrase Yogi Berra, making predictions is difficult, especially about the future. Nonetheless, I foresee that post pandemic we leave a greater awareness of the interconnected nature of our world. We are interconnected globally. We are interconnected locally. Even within small communities, your neighbors’ panic buying of toilet paper may leave you with nothing but corn cobs.

Learning from tragedy requires objective assessment and clear-eyed acceptance of reality. The only thing worse than not learning from tragedy is learning the wrong lesson. A wrong lesson would be to retreat from our international institutions, such as the World Health Organization (WHO). We need to learn from the past and strengthen international preparedness and capabilities. The WHO and our other international agencies are imperfect, but they also are what we make of them. As one diplomat said, blaming the organizations for failures is like blaming Madison Square Gardens for the Knicks playing badly.

In another example, global supply chains can result in bottlenecks and delayed deliveries. However, we can also observe how global capabilities can allow firms to nimbly avoid disruptions in the supply chain. While some call for restraints on global trade and a nationalism of supply, it is naïve to think global trade will cease. The global supply chain will remain. Ultimately, the key will be improving on global trade rather than restricting the free movement of goods.

However, the pandemic demonstrates how national borders are porous to disease. Walls, national isolation, and trade restrictions are offer futile protection. Instead, we need stronger international organizations and closer international cooperation rather than less. We need to fix the deficiencies and problems that exist in our international organizations rather than abandon them. Ironically, a walled off nation is more at risk from the next pandemic disease.

In the post-pandemic world, knowledge of global food law will be more important than before. Traditional classroom training will return, but an increased awareness and respect for “remote” learning will remain. We already know from years of research that online education can provide as good or better learning outcomes than traditional classroom instruction.

Now is the time to tap into the online food law knowledge at the Institute for Food Laws and Regulations. This summer MSU offers the course, Food Regulation in China, online. As we have seen in the worldwide crisis, China plays an important role in not only global health but also economic welfare of the world.  Moreover, China will continue to play an important role in the global food supply. Learn more this summer! Go to IFLR.msu.edu.

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