ACDC News – Issue 00-12

“If I were the queen of labels.”

That’s the arresting title of an article by Jane M. Thomas in the May 2000 issue of Agrichemical and Environmental News from Washington State University. And her follow-up is just as engrossing as she buzzes bravely into the beehive of pesticide labeling policy. As coordinator of the Pesticide Notification Network, Thomas reviews hundreds of pesticide labels. Noting that the U.S. has no rules with regard to pesticide labels, she proceeds to outline a slate of new rules that she would establish if she were “queen of labels.” Into her light-touch treatment, she weaves thoughtful discussion and specific suggestions about how to address this serious, complex challenge in risk communications.

Reference: Use title search (above) for the full citation. Article is posted online at

Using comics in development.

If you’d like to examine ways in which to fit drama and humor into information campaigns, you may be interested in this new reference from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland:

Comics with an attitude: a guide to the use of comics in development information

This 14-page reference describes the special capabilities of comics, summarizes techniques for using them effectively and offers case examples.
Reference: Use title search (above) for the full citation. Reference is posted online at

Invisible barrier.

A recent report from the Human Development Report Office of the United Nations Development Programme highlights problems in the use of new information technologies for development. The paper suggests that an invisible barrier has emerged – a barrier that, “true to its name, is like a world wide web, embracing the connected and silently, almost imperceptibly, excluding the rest.” It cites statistics that illustrate gaps among countries, in terms of Internet access and use. And it concludes that “market forces alone will not rectify the imbalance.”

Reference: Use title search (“New technologies and the global race for knowledge”) for the full citation.

Jousting among food information sources.

Media personnel and others are being alerted to credibility issues as new food information centers appear online. A recent example in Canada involves a press release from a health-advocacy organization contending that a food information council in that country is “hiding the fact that it is sponsored by major food corporations.”

Reference: Use title search (“Canadian Food Information Council: wolf in sheep’s clothing”) for the full citation.

And differing slants on results of those public attitude studies.

News media also report many studies these days about public attitudes toward biotechnology and food safety. Such studies are based on a variety of survey methods, some more sound than others. And even the statistically rigorous studies are open to “selective spin” by interest groups that cite the results.

Take, for example, a survey during May 2000 among a probability sample of U.S. consumers. It is the most recent in a series of similar surveys related to food biotechnology. Advocates of GMO foods can view the results and conclude that consumer attitudes regarding food biotechnology are increasingly positive. This conclusion is based, for example, on findings that (compared with last fall) consumers seem somewhat more likely to buy produce that has been enhanced to taste better or fresher. However, critics of GMO foods can cite findings reported in the same study that (compared with a year ago) consumers seem less likely to buy such produce.

Reference: Use title search (“U.S. consumer attitudes toward food biotechnology”) for the full citation.

Some other recent studies about public attitudes toward GM food:

  • “Awareness of genetically modified foods wide but knowledge inch deep” (data from Canada, US)
  • “Significant knowledge gap in debate over modified foods” (data from Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, UK, US)
  • “Teenagers see monitored GM foods as part of future”
  • “Biotech in trouble – part 2”
  • “Australians want labels on genetically modified food: survey”

Reference: Use title searches to identify the full citations for these documents.

Conferencing by Internet.

The Institute of Food Technologists reports that the first Internet conference in the field of food science and technology is taking place this year. The Internet conference is a major part of preparations for the 11th World Congress in Food Science and Technology. It will take place in Seoul, Korea, during April 2001. Participants can submit papers and discuss their work with others by connecting to a conference website.

Reference: Use title search (“First-ever food science and technology Internet conference”) for the full citation. The conference website is posted at

“Thinkers” and “worker bees.”

A reader of ACDC News expresses concern about the role of professional communicators in universities today. “I think the universities took a wrong turn years ago when they moved to create a peck-order system which put faculty in the “thinker” role and practitioners in the “worker bee” category. It’s so counter to fundamental Land Grant philosophy and to the best interests of both the institution and the productivity and intellectual development of the faculty members and practitioners.”

Let us know if you have seen or heard recent discussion about this topic.

Professional meetings approaching.

Following are some conferences, workshops and other kinds of professional improvement events for agricultural communicators:

July 29 – August 1, 2000
“If you remember the Summit, you’ll definitely remember the Alamo.” Agricultural Publications Summit at Adams Mark Hotel, San Antonio, Texas. Joint meeting of American Agricultural Editors’ Association, Agricultural Publishers Association and Livestock Publications Council.

September 2, 2000
First session of the 44th International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) conference at Royal Adelaide Showground, Adelaide, South Australia

September 28 – October 1, 2000
“CFWF 2000.” Conference of the Canadian Farm Writers Federation at Lethbridge, Alberta. Theme: “Farming on the green planet – the new age of stewardship.”

October 8 – 10, 2000
“Extension’s role in biotechnology education.” Symposium at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.

Best regards and good searching.

Please let us know if we can help you find information and/or if you can suggest documents that we might add to this collection.

Updated on