As the public comment periods wind down on provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), experts on food safety law have planned to convene at Harvard Law School to discuss the law and where food safety will go next. The conference, “New Directions for Food Safety: The Food Safety Modernization Act and Beyond,” will be hosted on Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, by the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. The focus on food law at an institution such as Harvard is a welcome sign that the topic is making long-deserved headway into academic discussion, said Denis Stearns, law professor at the Seattle University School of Law and one of the speakers at the conference. Stearns is also a former partner at food safety law firm Marler Clark, which underwrites Food Safety News, and was a lead defense attorney for Jack in the Box in the aftermath of the company’s 1993 E. coli outbreak. “Having worked in this area of food law and written about it, it’s not gotten much attention at the academic level,” Stearns said. “It’s very heartening that the area where I’ve been toiling away is finally getting attention from law schools and universities.” The conference will gather experts on food law and policy to examine and discuss the final rules of FSMA and other regulations from multiple angles. Stearns’ presentation is set to question whether stringent FSMA regulation of small farms is needed at all, and whether that regulatory energy should be focused on the larger processing firms where products from small farms are sent. “Lots of FSMA regulation has to do with what people do on the farm level, but not much has changed for the big processing operations doing the bagging and cleaning,” Stearns said. “One of the weaknesses of FSMA could perhaps be that it isn’t focused on the right thing.” Other discussions include the political economy and psychology of food safety, food fraud regulation under FSMA, and the regulation of veterinary drugs in animal feed. The conference is scheuled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 21, 2014. The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited and online registration is required.