International Agricultural Law

and Organizations



As international agricultural trade increases, international law becomes more important to agriculture and food production. For the purposes of this overview, “agriculture” includes all activities related to farming, including food production and distribution. As a result, there is considerable overlap between the areas of international agricultural law and international agricultural trade. This overview focuses on international law and organizations involved with agriculture. Read the full overview

Note: Recently added resources are posted at the top of the applicable sections.

Major Statutes of International Organizations

United Nations (UN)

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 

World Health Organization (WHO)

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) of the UN

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

The World Bank

World Trade Organization (WTO)

European Union (EU)

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC)

Organization of American States (OAS)

African Union (AU or OAU)

The Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

Case Law

Agricultural Dispute Case Law Index for International Law and Organizations

Center Research Publications

Aquaculture and the Lacey Act – PowerPoint Presentation (Springsteen, 2010)

Nation-Specific Risk Tolerance in the WTO: US-Continued Suspension of Obligations in the  EC-Hormones Dispute (Peck, 2009)

Summary of the WTO Interim Report in EC-Biotech (Peck, 2006)

Managing Carbon in a World Economy: The Role of American Agriculture (Garry, 2005)

Do European Union Non-Tariff Barriers Create Economic Nuisances in the United States? (Redick & Adrian, 2005)

Revising Seed Purity Laws to Account for the Adventitious Presence of Genetically Modified Varieties: A First Step Towards Coexistence (Endres, 2005)

European Union Food Law Update (Coutrelis, 2005)

World Trade Organization and the Commodity Title of the Next Farm Bill (O’Brien, 2006)

Jack and the Beanstalk: Property Rights in Genetically Modified Plants (Busch, 2004)

Biodiversity and the Law: The Culture of Agriculture and the Nature of Nature Conservation (Harbison, 2004)

Biodiversity and the Law of Nature Conservation in Great Britain (Harbison, 2004)

J.E.M. Ag Supply v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International: Its Meaning and Significance (Roberts, 2002)

Legal Liability Issues in Agricultural Biotechnology (Kershen, 2002)

Congressional Research Service Reports

Reports– published and made available by CRS beginning in 2017

Subjects- published by CRS and made available by NALC until 2018:

International Agriculture Biotechnology Food Security/Aid

Agricultural Law Bibliography

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Legal publications on International Law and Organizations:

Alien Land Ownership (Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land)

Farm Policy and Legislative Analysis

International Trade

Land Reform

Organizational Forms for Agriculture (Business Law and Development)

Reference Resources

Congressional Resources

International Law Reports (Agriculture and Food) (Government Accountability Office – GAO)

International Law Reports (International Affairs) — Agriculture (GAO)

International Law Reports (International Affairs) — Food (GAO)

Other Federal Resources

Foreign Agricultural Service

National Agricultural Library

Additional Resources

International Law and Organizations Posts (Ag & Food Law Blog)

International Law (Legal Information Institute, Cornell U.)

European Union Legal Materials: An Infrequent User’s Guide (Alford)

United Nations Environment Programme

Agriculture & Rural Development (UN Dept. of Economic & Social Affairs Division for Sustainable Development)

ECOLEX: A Gateway to Environmental Law (International and Country Resources)

National Water Law and Standards (FAO & WHO)

Atlas of International Freshwater Agreements (OR State U.)

Governments on the WWW: Multi-Governmental Organizations

Centre for Studies in Agriculture, Law and the Environment Food Law (U. of Reading, UK)

Foreign and International Law (Washburn U. School Law Library)

Legal Research on International Law Issues Using the Internet (U. Chicago Law School)


World Trade Organization Glossary

European Union Glossary

European Union Agricultural Glossary

NAFTA Glossary

OECD Sustainable Development’s Glossary

WTO Special Topics: Agriculture and Food Safety:

The Agriculture Negotiations

The Cotton Sub-Committee

Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures

World Trade Organization Resources

Commission for Environmental Cooperation: Publications and Information Resources

European Union Publications


Food and Agriculture Publications:

Taxation of Alcohol and Consumer Attitude: Is the ECJ Sober? (American Ass’n of Wine Economists, Georgopoulos, 2009)

A Human Rights Framework for World Food and Nutrition Security (UN General Assembly, 2008)

Legislative Studies (FAO)

Perspectives and Guidelines on Food Legislation, With a New Model Food Law (Vapnek, Spreij, 2005)

Multilateral Trade Negotiations and Food Aid (2005)

The Right to Adequate Food in Emergencies (Cotula, Vidar, 2002)

Extracts From International and Regional Instruments and Declarations, and Other Authoritative Texts Addressing the Right to Food (1999)

Legal Papers Online (FAO Legal Office)

International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides (2003)

IFAD Documents and Publications

Association of Southeast Asian Nations: Publications

Forestry Publications:

Legal and Institutional Aspects of Urban and Peri-urban Forestry and Greening (Knuth, 2005)

Forest Assessment And Monitoring, An International Journal of Forestry and Forest Industries (Perlis, 2002/2003)

Fisheries Publications:

Legislating for Property Rights in Fisheries (Stewart, 2004)

Administrative Sanctions in Fisheries Law (Cacaud, et al. 2003)

Fisheries Enforcement: Related Legal and Institutional Issues: National, Subregional or Regional Perspectives (Franckx, 2001)

Water Publications:

Modern Water Rights – Theory and Practice (Hodgson, 2006)

Groundwater in International Law: Compilation of Treaties and Other Legal Instruments (Burchi, Mechlem, 2005)

Land and Water: The Rights Interface (Hodgson, 2004)

Preparing National Regulations for Water Resources Management: Principles and Practice (Burchi, D’Andra, 2003)

Water Rights Administration. Experience, Issues and Guidelines (Velasco, 2001)

Environment Publications:

Trade and the Environment (World Trade Organization)

World Bank Agriculture & Rural Development Publications

World Development Report 2008: Agriculture for Development

Food Safety and Agricultural Health Management in CIS Countries: Completing the Transition (2007)

Enhancing Agricultural Innovation: How to Go Beyond the Strengthening of Research Systems (2007)

Reforming Agricultural Trade for Developing Countries: Volume 1, Key Issues for a Pro-Development Outcome of the Doha Round (McCala, Nash, 2007)

Reforming Agricultural Trade for Developing Countries: Volume 2, Quantifying the Impact of Multilateral Trade Reform (McCala, Nash, 2007)

Health-Enhancing Foods (Kotilainen, et al., 2006)

Social and Environmental Sustainability of Ag and Rural Development Investments: M&E Toolkit (Punkari, et al., 2007)