Courts have arisen as one of the best tools through which to effect meaningful social change and environmental protection across the food system. In many instances, litigation is the only effective way to halt illegal, damaging regulatory decisions promulgated to benefit corporations rather than public health and biodiversity. Litigating can result in stopping the approval and use of damaging industrial agricultural practices and resulting in protections for farming and impacted communities, pollinators, endangered species, and public health. Litigation strategies also have the extra-legal benefits of raising public awareness, raising consciousness, and focusing appropriate public anger around destructive regulatory decisions. Litigation catalyzes public debate and encourages shifts towards organic and regenerative farming. This session will feature leading attorneys in the food and farming advocacy sector. Presentations will include a focus on integrating disadvantaged communities in litigation processes; examples of recent successful impact litigation; how litigation complements policy and grassroots organizing campaigns; successful litigation collaboration on cases; etc.
Ashley Lukens, Ph.D. is an independent philanthropic and development advisor in Hawai’i and Oregon. She has worked in and with the impact sector in Hawai’i since 2006 as the founder of the Hawai’i Food Policy Council, owner of Baby Awearness, director of the RISE Program at Kupu, director of Hawai’i Center for Food Safety, and currently as the executive director of the Frost Family Foundation, co-founder of Kūkulu, and co-founder of Hoiʻwai Fund. https://www.ashleylukens.com/backstory
Karen Allston, Senior Assistant Attorney General for the Quinault Indian Nation, has served as its in-house counsel for over 15 years. Her representation focuses on land use and natural resources issues affecting the Quinault Nation both on- and off-Reservation. Prior to her tenure at the Quinault Nation, she served as Executive Director of the Center for Environmental Law and Policy, a water watchdog and river advocacy organization in Washington. Prior to that, she was in-house counsel for the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. Ms. Allston holds a B.A. in Communications from the University of Washington and earned her J.D. cum laude from Seattle University.
George Kimbrell is CFS’s Legal Director, overseeing all of the Center’s legal work. Along with his Director duties, George is counsel in many CFS cases. His legal, legislative, and policy work runs the gamut of many CFS program areas, including pesticides, genetically engineered organisms, animal factory pollution, food labeling, foodborne illness, organic standards, and aquaculture. Among other landmark cases, George was counsel in the first U.S. Supreme Court case on the regulation of genetically engineered crops. He received his law degree magna cum laude from Lewis and Clark Law School, where he now teaches food and agriculture law as an adjunct professor.
Quinton N. Robinson, Esq. is a practicing attorney with litigation experience in the fields of employment and farm credit discrimination cases, recently accomplishing groundbreaking legal precedents on behalf of minority farmers and ranchers. Mr. Robinson has served in many leadership capacities including, a White House political appointee for the Obama Administration, as a member of the Georgia State Directors of Rural Development with the United States Department of Agriculture, the Director of the Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and as the Assistant Counsel on the House Agriculture Committee
Sylvia Wu is a Senior Attorney/Managing Attorney, Hawaii & California offices at the Center for Food Safety, where she works on law and policy related to genetically engineered crops, factory farming, aquaculture, pesticides, and other food safety issues. As an attorney with CFS, Sylvia has litigated against U.S. federal agencies over approval of herbicide-resistant genetically engineered crops and their associated pesticide use, the approval of pesticides that are harming pollinators and other sensitive species, as well as approval of industrial offshore aquaculture systems that will pollute our oceans and marine resources. Through legislative efforts and litigation, Sylvia also works with local communities to defend communities’ right to protect themselves against the harms of industrial agriculture. Sylvia holds a J.D. from UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). Sylvia is involved in various projects promoting local economy and urban agriculture in the Bay Area.