Vanderbilt Law Review


Ray Forrester

First Page



The first thesis this Article postulates is that the history of food and drug regulation during the past twenty centuries has been the history of the development of analytical chemistry, not the history of the development of law and regulation. Statutory law during this period has remained relatively static, while general understanding of analytical chemistry has leapt ahead with unparalleled achievement. Increased scientific enlightenment, largely achieved through analytical chemistry, has produced every important advance in food and drug regulation. Indeed, the overwhelming success of the field of analytical chemistry has created entire scientific disciplines as well as improvement in government regulation of food and drugs.

The second thesis this Article presents is that the very nature of food and drug regulation requires that analytical chemistry will retain its central regulatory significance for the foreseeable future. The task that must be accomplished by analytical chemistry, in short, is far from completed, and stretches into the indefinite future.

Before pursuing these two theses, it is necessary to dispose of one subsidiary matter. The past few years has witnessed intense debate concerning the scope of the term "analytical chemistry."AOAC has, for example, discussed changing its name because of concern that the present title is not sufficiently broad to reflect the comprehensive purposes of the scientific field it represents. The plain meaning of the words themselves, however, quite adequately describes the scope of scientific inquiry represented by this field. Chemistry is defined as "[t]he science of the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter." Analysis, as it relates to chemistry, is defined as "[s]eparation of a substance into constituents or the determination of its composition."' This Article approaches the subject of analytical chemistry in this comprehensive context.