ACDC News – Issue 13-06

A linguistic jungle – terms reporters used to describe GM (or whatever)

Writing in the Newspaper Research Journal , Linda Steiner and Nora Bird found a linguistic jungle while analyzing the terms journalists used when they reported about genetically modified food. Here are the terms identified, arranged according to frequency: genetic engineering, genetically engineered, genetically modified, GM, genetically modified organisms, GMO, biotechnology, biotech, transgenic, genetically altered, frankenfood(s), gene-altered, gene-modified, biopharming, genomics, bioengineered. On average, the reporters who were interviewed used 3.6 different terms.

You may see opportunities for education, information, and research to help clear this jungle and improve understanding.

You can read a pdf version of “Reporters see indifference on genetically modified food” at:

Advice for agricultural journalists about sensitive reporting

Executive members of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) recently heard encouragement and advice about free-press issues. Writing in IFAJ News , Hans Siemes summarized remarks by Oliver Vujovic, general secretary of the South and East Europe Media Organization (SEEMO). Vujovic reported that his organization, active in 20 countries, had about 800 cases during the past year in which journalists were attacked or put under severe pressure.

He encouraged IFAJ to continue to embrace freedom of the press and suggested it help agricultural journalists who are under pressure. He offered several tips to help them protect themselves.

You can read the newsletter article at:

Get a snapshot of fast-flowing agricultural news and information

“We can’t read it all in ag” is the title of a December 20, 2012, report we entered recently into the ACDC collection. Through Truffle Labs, AgToday collects articles on a variety of topics related to agriculture. The topics involve activism, beef, bioenergy, corn, dairy, food, innovation, politics, poultry, science, soybeans, and swine.

More than 15,000 digital articles about those topics had been generated, worldwide, during the 14 months covered. You can follow the flow at:

Another view of the “food miles” concept

Recent research by Alfred Wong and Alan Hallsworth illustrates the complexities of communicating about food systems. They examined the carbon dioxide footprint of heated greenhouse operations, in comparison with emissions that arose during the transportation of food grown in a distant location. Their study focused on fresh tomatoes for Vancouver, British Columbia.

Findings suggested that carbon dioxide emitted per kilogram was about seven times greater for tomatoes grown in regional heated greenhouses and transported fewer than 160 km to Vancouver than for open-field tomatoes grown in northwestern Mexico and transported about 2,400 km to Vancouver. As expected, emissions were lowest for tomatoes grown in season and in open fields within 160 km of Vancouver.

You can read their 2012 article in the International Journal on Food System Dynamics at:

Fitting communications within an innovative local agri-food business model.

Thanks to Dr. Mansour Farah, consultant in development, for alerting us to a case report about the Smart Community business model. This project is sponsored by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). It tests an innovative approach to strengthening rural communities. A key question: Can new local agri-food enterprises be developed in ways that sustain and support local community information centers?

Smart Community projects have been functioning in Iraq, Syria and Yemen since 2006. We are adding to the ACDC collection a 2009 report of the project in Iraq. Findings suggest that:

  • The Smart Community model looks promising in that setting, with signs of early impact through successful training efforts and project management.
  • Greatest challenges are apparent in official procedures, access to processing facilities for the local enterprises and access to computers and information technologies.
  • Collaboration between local governments and various industries may determine the extent to which local agri-food industries can sustainably support community information centers.

You can read the report, “Smart Community Project for Iraq,” here .

Looking back at a productive year

You can get a capsule view of programming, services and progress in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center during 2012. It’s posted on the ACDC website and you can review it at:

Busy time for communicator activities

  • May 7-9, 2013
    Annual meeting of the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) in Portland, Oregon. Information:
  • May 19-22, 2013
    “Building capacity through international agricultural and extension education.” Annual conference of the Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education in Fort Worth, Texas. Information:
  • June 1-5, 2013
    “Sound ideas: the stage is set.” Annual Institute of the Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA) in Nashville, Tennessee. Information:
  • June 11-14, 2013
    “ACE-NETC Racing Ahead 2013.” Joint conference of the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) and the National Extension Technology Conference (NETC) in Indianapolis, Indiana. Commemorates the 100th anniversary of ACE and features more than 100 professional breakout sessions. Information:
  • June 17-21, 2013
    Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) in London, UK. Information:
  • July 22-24, 2013
    “Emerging priorities for scientific and agricultural information.” 14th World Congress of the International Association of Agricultural Information Specialists in Ithaca, New York. Information:
  • August 3-7, 2013
    “Just wing it!” Agricultural Media Summit sponsored by the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA), Livestock Publications Council (LPC) and the Agri Council of American Business Media in Buffalo, New York. Also hosts the annual conference of the student organization, Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT). Information:
  • August 26-28, 2013
    “Transformative change: chosen or unchosen—pathways to innovation, resilience and prosperity.” International conference of the Australasian-Pacific Extension Network (APEN) in Christchurch, New Zealand. Information:
  • September 1-5, 2013
    Annual Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) in Buenos Aires and Rosario, Argentina. Information:

Is there a history?

We close this issue of ACDC News with a thought from a 2013 article by Elizabeth Station in The Core magazine (University of Chicago). A subhead in the article read:

If there’s not an archive,

is there a history?

The question resonates with us here in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. Our mission during the past 31 years has been to help create an archive—to help identify, gather, process, preserve, and make available the widely-scattered body of research, experience and thought about communications aspects of agriculture, globally. We hope this effort is helping create a history of—and future progress for—something vitally important to societies throughout the world.

Best wishes and good searching.

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. And please suggest (or send) agricultural communications documents we might add to this unique collection. We welcome them in hard copy (sent to Ag Comm Documentation Center, 510 LIAC, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or in electronic format sent to