The Agriculture Update will focus narrowly on: 1) current technology issues in agriculture including genetically modified organisms (GMOs), herbicides, pesticides, agriculture water pollution, aquifer depletion, antibiotics in livestock, and accurate food labeling; and 2) current agriculture finance issues including consolidation in agriculture industries, crop subsidies and the federal agricultural regulatory process.

A7: Interaction of Federal Agencies with Food Safety Missions

This is the seventh in a series of Agency papers for the Agriculture Update. Responsibility for food safety is shared by a number of federal, state and local agencies. The individual responsibilities of the key food safety agencies at the federal level have already been discussed in the background pieces on the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Because of overlapping mandates and the complex nature of interaction among all the federal agencies working on food safety, we present a separate overview on how the entire food safety system is organized and what this implies for inter-agency coordination.

A8: Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

This is the eighth paper in the agency series of background papers for the Agriculture Update. Patent law is important to the agricultural sector, which owes a large part of its productivity growth to the introduction of new technologies that might not have been created in the absence of patent protection. While patent laws are passed by Congress, it is the U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) in the Department of Commerce that is charged with administering the law–its primary task being the review of patent applications and issuance of patents. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which has nationwide jurisdiction over cases involving patent law, also plays a significant role in shaping how the patent law is interpreted as does the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (AT-DOJ), often called on to investigate questions of patent misuse and infringements.

A9: Antitrust Enforcement Agencies and Legislation

This is the ninth and final agency paper for the Agriculture Update. When antitrust legislation surfaced in the 1890s, the agricultural sector was not on the radar screen. During the 20th century, however, public perceptions of diminished competition in agricultural input supply, commodity marketing, food processing, and, to a lesser extent, the retail grocery sector led antitrust enforcement agencies to pay more attention to these agricultural subsectors.

T0: Introduction to Agriculture Technology

This is the overview for the second series of papers in the Agriculture Update. This portion of the Agriculture Update elaborates on farm management of crops and animals, traditional and genetic engineered plant breeding, and the technologies affecting pesticides, water and soils.

T1: Overview of Farm Management

This is the first in the technology series of papers for the Agriculture Update. This paper provides an overview of farm management from the 20th century to present.

T3: Genetic Engineering and Genetically Modified Organisms in the Food System

This is the third paper in the technology series of background papers for the Agriculture Update. The issues surrounding genetic engineering are complex and overlapping, rendering most attempts to generalize about GE foods misleading. The abundant information and misinformation on the topic adds complexity to issues ranging from government policy to individual health considerations. This paper has provided information to stimulate informed discussion of the federal government’s role in balancing consumer, farmer and industry interests.

T4: Overview of Pesticide Management

This is the fourth paper in the technology series of the Agriculture Update. “Pesticides” is an umbrella term referring to substances that prevent damage from weeds, diseases, or animals. Pesticides are applied to growing crops to maintain crop yields, crop quality, and appearance, as well as post-harvest storage to prevent mold and animal infestation.

T5: Overview of Soil Management

This is the fifth in a series of technology background papers for the Agriculture Update. From an agricultural perspective, healthy soil means a soil that sustains or enhances productivity, ensures profits and is sustained for future generations. A broader perspective may include its ability to maintain or enhance biodiversity, nutrient cycling and biomass production. In today's world, all soil functions—regulating water, filtering pollutants, sustaining plant and animal life, cycling nutrients and supporting structures—are important.

T6: Overview of Water Management

This is the sixth paper in the technology series of background papers for the Agriculture Update. Water is an essential component of all agricultural production. The supply of adequate water for irrigation and the need to improve water quality in our streams, rivers and lakes will continue to be major environmental, political and economic issues.