ACDC News – Issue 01-24

“Whenever possible, we need to be there.” 

So concluded the president of North American Agricultural Journalists in a recent thought piece about the drawbacks that confront journalists in this communications age. “We live in an era when technology of communication has never been easier, more cost-effective or profuse,” said Laura Rance of Manitoba Co-operator. Then she asked, “So why do we find it so hard to stay connected with our sources? Why is it getting harder to tell a story?”

“A pitfall of having access to so much that we mistake an exchange of information with true communication. . For us to truly tell the stories of the people we cover, we need to truly communicate with them, not simply exchange information and data. Whenever possible, we need to be there. We need to get out of our offices and into the lives of the people we cover so we can accurately portray who they are, and what they have to say. . We have to create ways to overcome barriers that technology creates.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Communications age has its drawbacks”) or author search (Rance) for the full citation. Posted online at:

Food safety – the environmental issue of this decade? 

John Wright, senior vice-president of public affairs for Ipsos-Reid, Canada, put it this way in a recent report on consumer attitudes: “At the outset of the last decade it was rocks, water, lumber and recyclability. Now we’re less concerned about the bottle as what’s in it.” This poll indicated that 74 percent of Canadians worry about the safety of their food.

Reference: Use a title search (“Food safety worries Canadians”) or author search (Foss) for the full citation. Archived (October 10, 2001) at:

Neglected stakeholders in biotechnology discussions. 

A commentary in Nature Biotechnology suggests that the needs, interests and concerns of primary stakeholders – the “commoners” – have been neglected in the biotechnology arena.

“Biotechnology’s future ultimately relies on governing institutions listening and responding to the public, rather than discounting key stakeholders as irrational, scientifically illiterate, or technophobic.” Authors offer suggestions for doing so.

Reference: Use a title search (“The tragedy of the commoners”) or author search (Sagar) for the full citation. Posted at:

Scientists “will earn public trust by not betraying it. 

We must conduct only those experiments we know to be meaningful and reject those we know aren’t. If an experiment is unlikely to contribute data increasing our understanding of a GMO, then it is not worth doing.” Alan McHughen, University of Saskatchewan, offered this advice to fellow scientists at the close of the 6th International Symposium on the Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms. He asked what will replace scientific analysis in evaluating risk if the public rejects the legitimacy of it. His answer: “Non-science, or nonsense. Witchcraft.”

Reference: Use a title search (“The road ahead”) or author search (McHughen) for the full citation. Posted online at:

Extension reports from Australasia Pacific. 

Thanks to ACDC Staff Associate Liz Kellaway for alerting us to the proceedings of an interesting recent Extension conference. The 2001 International Conference of Australasia Pacific Extension Network (APEN) took place October 3-5 at the University of South Queensland, Toowoomba. We are entering into the ACDC collection more than 70 refereed papers presented during that conference. A few sample topics:

  •     “Challenges for contemporary extension: the case of biofertilizer in Vietnam”
  •     “Assisting indigenous extension services”
  •     “How to win growers and influence change”
  •     “The role of science communication in natural resource planning”
  •     “Information in extension: a poverty of theory”
  •     “Reflections on the development of Landcare in the Philippines”
  •     “Rethinking action research: theory and extension practice”

Reference: Citations for these and other papers from the conference are being processed into ACDC and will be accessible by subject, author and title. You can see the full proceedings online at:

Indigenous knowledge: is it scientific?

In Naked Science, anthropologist Laura Nader asks:

“If knowledge is born of experience and reason.and if science is a phenomenon universally characterized (after the insight) by rationality, then are not indigenous systems of knowledge part of the scientific knowledge of mankind?”

You can follow developments in this important field of rural communications through “IK Pages – Gateway to Indigenous Knowledge on the Internet.”

“The age of the ‘specialist’ in our business is over.” 

Barry Jones offered this view recently when he accepted the ACE Professional Award, highest recognition given by the Agricultural Communicators in Education organization. Speaking to communicators who work in colleges and universities, government agencies and development organizations, he said:

“The communicators of tomorrow are coming to the workplace with a set of skills that is far broader than what we have ever demanded before, and they are flexible enough to apply those skills in many ways. I could not have imagined in the 1970s or 80s that I would have writers and publications editors or graphics artists who would become ‘new media specialists’ or ‘Web content developers’ or ‘digital image editors’.”

Reference: Use a title search (“ACE Professional Award”) or author search (Jones) for the full citation.

How to make working from home work. 

That is the title of a recent article by agricultural writer Susan K. Davis. She offered six suggestions, based on her 13 years of working from home.

Reference: Use a title search (above) or author search (Davis) for the full citation.

Helping you gain online, full-text access.

You may have noticed that, increasingly, we are trying to provide you with online access to full-text documents that we are entering into the ACDC collection. Using the live links that we identify, you can visit web sites on which an increasing amount of literature about agricultural communications is being posted. We hope this service is useful to you and welcome your reactions and suggestions.

For archiving purposes, we collect such materials in paper and/or electronic format so they will be available to you after their often-brief, elusive web life ends. We want to help you gain access to them in the future – 5, 10, 50 years or more from now.

As you tap into more online information 

You also will find increasing value in searching the ACDC database to identify the full range of items in the collection that may be relevant to you.

Thanks for your continuing encouragement.

As this year draws to a close, we ACDC team members want you to know how much we appreciate your interest and encouragement. Words of encouragement (such as the following recent comments) mean much to us, as do your suggestions about how ACDC can serve you better:

  •    “Your operation is great..;
  •    “I find it very useful.”
  •    “I really appreciate receiving this information each month.”
  •    “.inevitably there’s something in here I am interested in.”
  •    “Thanks for managing this important service.”

Season’s greetings 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 unique collection. We welcome them in hard copy (sent to Ag Com Documentation Center, 69 Mumford Hall, 1301 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801) or electronic form (

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