ACDC News – Issue 01-07

Interested in the communications side of mad cow, foot-and-mouth and other diseases?

We are adding considerable information these days about consumer reactions, media coverage and other communications-related aspects of these current threats. On the “Real search” page, use subject terms such as the following to identify documents of possible interest:

  • “animal health”
  • “beef”
  • “diseases”

Also, please let us know if you can suggest documents that will strengthen this active and growing part of the collection.

Inundated with food scares.

Consumers in the United Kingdom were exposed to more than 35 food scares between 1960 and 1999, according to an analysis reported by N. G. Gregory in the journal, Outlook on Agriculture. He said he views 1989 as a turning point in the history of the food industry in Europe, a year in which consumers were inundated with food scares. The scares, in his opinion, led to “accelerated growth of the health food industry” and “a gradual change in ownership of responsibility for looking after health of the public through the food they ate.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Consumer concerns about food”) or author search (Gregory) for the full citation.

Farmers’ adoption and views of no-till practices.

Thanks to the Natural Resources Conservation Service/USDA office in Des Moines, Iowa, for providing this 40-page research report recently:

“Iowa Residue Management Survey 2000: Report to the Iowa Residue Management Partnership”

The survey among corn and soybean growers in Iowa highlights current adoption rates for no-till practices and factors that farmers use to make tilling decisions. Results also reveal drawbacks and problems that farmers see in no-till practices.

Reference: Use a title search (“Iowa Residue Management Survey 2000”) for the full citation.

Pressures on scientists from funding sources.

Following are cited results of a survey early this year among British scientists working in government or in recently privatized laboratories. “One-third of the respondents had been asked to change their research findings to suit the customer’s preferred outcome, while 10% had pressure put on them to bend their results to help secure contracts.” Examples involving agricultural biotechnology appeared in the Institute of Science in Society report that cited these results.

Reference: Use a title search (“The new thought police suppressing dissent in science”) or author search (Mathews) for the full citation, including URL for online access.

Rhubarb Days and Astroturf.

Pseudo news (“do-it-yourself public relations”) is alive and well in agricultural communications, it seems. According to two articles added recently to the ACDC collection:

  • A commentary in New Scientist magazine calls attention to Britain’s National Rhubarb Day (sponsored by National Farmers’ Union) and Chip Week (sponsored by the British Potato Council). “Truly, we have much to celebrate.”
  • Science reporters are cited as grappling with problems in trying to distinguish between real grassroots groups and Astroturf (a usage that describes advocacy groups “carefully manufactured” by public relations groups to “concoct and spin news reports”). Some examples cited in an HMS Beagle article involve news about agricultural pesticides, biotechnology and food safety.

Reference: Use title searches (“Did you miss National Rhubarb Day?” and “Grassroots or Astroturf?”) for the full citations, including URLs for online access.

“Claim no easy victories”

Is the advice given to the pesticide industry by two university researchers. Their analysis, reported in World Development journal, involves the industry’s Global Safe Use campaign. It is a training and education project that has been credited with a dramatic decline in the scope of pesticide-related health and environmental problems in Guatemala. The authors challenge this claim and suggest that it may have over-reached supporting data.

Reference: Use a title search (“Claim no easy victories”) or author search (Murray) for the full citation.

Role of the consumer activist groups.

PR Watch cites this perspective from Inside PR, a public relations trade publication:

“.these self-appointed watchdogs perform as a necessary counterbalance to untrammeled corporate power and as a source of pressure on recalcitrant regulators.Over the years consumer and environmental activities have done far more good than harm. Thanks to the work of those who agitate for social change, the roads have become safer; the environment has become cleaner; food has become more nutritious; consumers are in general far better informed about the products they buy; and workers are in general better rewarded and at less risk of injury or abuse.”

Reference: Use a title search (“The usual suspects”) for the full citation, including URL for online access.

“Don’t Get Sicky Wit It”

Is the title of a new food safety rap song from Carl Winter, extension toxicologist at the University of California-Davis. It gets its inspiration from “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” by Will Smith and offers basic tips for food safety in the home and restaurant. Samples of the 18 other food safety songs in Winter’s expanding collection:

  • Mad Cow Disease: “Beware La Vaca Loca,” inspired by “Livin’ La Vida Loca” (Ricky Martin)
  • Biotechnology: “Clonin’ DNA,” inspired by “Surfin’ USA” (Beach Boys)
  • Microbial: “There’ll Be a Stomachache Tonight,” inspired by “Heartache Tonight” (The Eagles)


Early extension teleconferencing.

The ACDC collection recently added several documents that trace origins of a telecommunications program that has served the University of Illinois Extension Service for many years. They include:

  • “A communication study for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service” (1963)
  • “Tele-Lecture in your county” (circa 1965)
  • “Five counties test Tele-Lecture: an evaluation” (1965)

Reference: Use title searches (titles above) for the full citations.

Professional activities approaching:

May 23, 2001
“Publication design training class” at Phoenix, Arizona. Sponsored by the Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association for cooperative communicators and others. Information:

June 23-26, 2001
Communications: it’s more than magic.” Joint conferences of the Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA) and Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) at Orlando, Florida.
Information: or

Best regards and good searching.

Please pass along your reactions, questions and ideas for ACDC. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. And please suggest (or send) agricultural communications documents that we might add to this collection. We welcome them in hard copy (sent to Ag Com Documentation Center, 69 Mumford Hall, University of Illinois, 1301 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801) or electronic form ( Thank you.

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