Friday, February 11, 2011

New Student Group, FARM, Hosts Chipotle and Discusses ‘Food Integrity’ at First Meeting

By John Hedges, FARM Law & Policy Group, 1L Representative

Burritos from Chipotle Mexican Grill are eaten daily by University of Denver Sturm College of Law students, but rarely do those students consider the complex system responsible for the convenient meal. On January 31, the burritos were hand-delivered by Houman Iskandani along with a detailed presentation on Chipotle’s commitment to “food with integrity.”

Iskandani, area manager of the restaurant’s Denver locations, was the guest speaker at the inaugural meeting of the College of Law Food, Agriculture and Resource Management Law and Policy Group (FARM). He explained how Chipotle’s founder, Steve Ells, started working more closely with suppliers after visiting Midwestern pig farms and witnessing how livestock is conventionally raised.

“It’s really devastating,” Iskandani said after describing pigs confined to small pens and the overpowering stench of the sheds.

That experience led the company to demand naturally raised meat, dairy products, and organic produce whenever practical. The company characterizes animals as “naturally raised” if they are humanely treated, fed a vegetarian diet, given no hormones, and “allowed to display their natural tendencies.”

Iskandani reported that all of the pork and chicken Chipotle serves meets its naturally-raised standards. Forty-five percent of its beef and 35 percent of the dairy served meets Chipotle’s “natural” standards.

He also discussed the company’s preference for local producers. He proudly explained that Denver-area stores get as much seasonal produce as possible from Grant Family Farms, an organic producer near Fort Collins, CO, and other local providers.

Iskandani said that the company’s efforts have encouraged more farmers and ranchers to use organic and other “natural” methods. “We are able to influence the farm industry, and we are very happy about that,” he said.

The first Chipotle restaurant was opened on Evans Avenue, near the University of Denver, in 1993. The chain expanded rapidly and now has over 1,000 locations including recently-opened international locations in Ontario and London. Iskandani explained that “in Europe it is much easier to get what we are looking for” in naturally-raised food. He added, “unfortunately this is something we battle [in the U.S.] every day.”

Iskandani’s presentation provided insight into an escalating conflict between conventional agriculture and farmers making efforts to use more sustainable techniques. The conflict received fresh media coverage recently after the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved genetically modified alfalfa to be planted without limits.

Chipotle’s situation is surprising because the demand for natural food is being driven by the company’s leadership, rather than by its consumers. Iskandani said he is “very surprised” that, except in a few markets, “the majority of the people don’t care” about how their food is raised.

“We need to know where the food is coming from,” Iskandani said. “Our campaign of food integrity is mostly about creating awareness on the outside,” he added. “That is the right thing to do.”

Iskandani’s presentation included food safety, distribution, farm labor, carbon emissions, corporate partnerships and even international economics. It was an appropriate first meeting for the FARM Law and Policy Group, who, like Chipotle, seeks to promote more discussion about food production, relevant agriculture laws, and policies creating our complex system.

Thirty-five people, mostly J.D. students, attended FARM’s first meeting. The group is open to all University of Denver students, and encourages the involvement of any interested participants from the broader Denver community.

At the initial meeting, FARM’s co-presidents Jeffrey John and Rachel Armstrong suggested, with enough support, agricultural law courses could be part of the Sturm College of Law curriculum. They discussed plans for hosting future events with elected leaders, government agencies, and local attorneys, to promote the awareness of and increase the dialogue around complex FARM law issues. They also encouraged students to promote discussion of food and agriculture issues through related environmental and land use organizations at DU law school. Specifically, the co-presidents asked for motivated students to research the FARM issues important to them, and to make efforts to publish here on the Environment21 blog and on the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute’s Triple Pundit blog. The many topics suggested – food safety, genetically modified foods, intellectual property, water use, bio-fuels, and urban farming – reflect both the breadth of the group’s interests and the impact of agriculture on many areas of law.

FARM will be represented on an “Urban Eating” panel at the Mountain Sustainability Summit, Feb. 17 and 18 at the University of Denver.

Editor's note: The picture shows Ells Niman, Chiptole's founder, visiting a supplier's farm.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The View From Our Window: The Incomparable Colorado Rocky Mountains

Morning arrives in Denver, Colorado: 8.30 a.m., February 10, 2011.

The pictures speak for themselves (both taken from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law).

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN) Announces Two Major Scholarship Programs That are Available to Sturm College of Law Students

The Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN) has announced two important scholarship programs that are open to University of Denver Sturm College of Law full-time students.

The AIPN was founded in 1981 to enhance the professionalism of cross-border energy negotiators throughout the world. It is now composed of more than 2,900 members in more than 80 countries, representing numerous international oil and gas companies, host governments, law firms and academic institutions.

The winner of the first program, the Student Outreach Program, will receive a fully paid trip and registration to the AIPN Spring Conference April 13-15, 2011, in San Antonio, Texas. Please click here to see the conference brochure. Students with a focus or serious interest in oil and gas law and policy are encouraged to apply for the scholarship. Applicants should submit a one-page explanation about how they would benefit from attending the conference. Applications, which must be received by February 28, should be e-mailed to Lucy Daberkow by clicking here.

The second program is the Student Scholarship Program, which underwrites eight scholarships in the amount of $5,000 each. These scholarships will be awarded for the academic year beginning with the fall 2011 semester. For more information about the Student Scholarship Program, please click here. An application form is available by clicking here and the reference form can be accessed by clicking here. Applications must be submitted to AIPN by June 1, 2011, and applicants will be notified of results on or about July 15, 2011.

Don C. Smith, Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program, said, "The University of Denver is privileged to be one of the select universities that the AIPN has chosen to participate in these programs. Among the universities that are involved include institutions in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Europe, Qatar, and the U.S. These programs represent excellent opportunities to students to learn more about the AIPN, one of the premier organizations of its kind in the world."

For more information about the scholarship programs, please contact Mr. Smith by clicking here.

The AIPN also has a student membership, which is available for $25. To access the AIPN Student Memberships Benefits brochure, please click here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Bruce Kirchhoff, Vice President and General Counsel of Royal Gold Inc., to Speak on February 10 About Owning, Managing Precious Metals Royalties

Bruce Kirchhoff, Vice President and General Counsel of Royal Gold, Inc., will speak at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law Thursday, February 10, from 12 noon to 1 p.m. in room 155 about the business of owning and managing royalties involving precious metals mines, with a focus on gold.

Royal Gold owns a large portfolio of producing, development, evaluation and exploration stage royalties located in some of the world's most prolific gold regions. According to the company, "Through this high quality portfolio, Royal Gold maintains upside potential through any exploration successes by the operators and benefits when new reserves are produced."

Mr. Kirchhoff has more than 20 years experience in a broad range of business, commercial and corporate matters affecting natural resource companies. Most recently he served as a partner with Carver Kirchhoff Schwarz McNab & Bailey, LLC (“CKSMB”) where he represented hardrock and industrial minerals clients as well as mineral exploration and development companies. Prior to CKSMB, Mr. Kirchhoff was a senior attorney with Cyprus Amax Minerals Company.

Mr. Kirchhoff holds a J.D. degree from the Sturm College of Law, a Masters in Mineral Economics from Colorado School of Mines, and a B.A. from Colorado College. He has been an Adjunct Lecturer in Law at the College of Law where he taught international mining law and policy.

A Denver-based corporation, Royal Gold is traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, under the symbol “RGLD,” and on the Toronto Stock Exchange, under the symbol “RGL.”

Don C. Smith, Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program, said, "It will be an honor to host Bruce Kirchhoff as he speaks about the business of Royal Gold, Inc. Mr. Kirchhoff's presentation will be particularly fascinating to students who are considering a career in the natural resources field. Moreover, his presentation is extremely timely with the growth in demand for precious metals such as gold. There is a great deal to be learned from accomplished individuals such as Mr. Kirchhoff, who has had a successful and wide-ranging career in natural resources-related law and business."