ACDC News – Issue 02-02

Agricultural print media – the Big Bang of extension. 

Commercialization of the printing press in Europe during the early 1600s created “the first opportunity for widespread information and knowledge transfer throughout all sections of society including agriculture.” Jess Jennings and Roger Packham, University of Western Sydney, Australia, traced the development of agricultural extension in a paper presented recently. They observed that the rise of agricultural print media “can be accepted as a legitimate origin of extension practice, and simultaneously the naïve beginnings of an agricultural extension profession.” On the downside, their historical analysis also identified origins of separation between on-farm practice and agricultural research and learning processes.

Reference: Use a title search (“Big Bang and genealogy”) or author search (Jennings) for the full citation. Paper posted at:

Watching for food from abroad. 

A 2001 survey by the Tarrance Group among U.S. registered voters revealed that 81 percent considered it somewhat or very important that the food they eat comes from farms and ranches in the United States rather than from foreign countries. However, 40 percent said they rarely or never look at labels when they purchase or use food or beverages to see in which country or state they are produced.

Reference: Use a title search (“Farm Survey June 2001”) or author search (Tarrance) for the full citation. Details of the survey are posted in the Academic Universe of Lexis-Nexis

More “feel-good” labels appearing on food these days. 

“Bird-friendly,” “shade-grown” and “cage-free” are “just a few of the new marketing labels being plastered on food packages.” So reported a recent New York Times article. Writer Marian Burros said as organic labels have become commonplace, additional feel-good labeling is appearing in food stores. The article noted problems of meaning, accuracy and ethics. It also described the rise of new food certification programs.

Reference: Use a title search (“Good eating”) or author search (Burros) for the full citation. Text is archived (January 2, 2002) at:

Also some misleading GM-free claims on food labels. 

A recent survey by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland revealed this problem. The survey analyzed levels of GM (genetically modified) content in dried soy products, soy substitutes for dairy products and soy infant formulae to ensure that the industry is adhering to food labeling regulations. One-third of the samples that tested positive for GM ingredients were mislabeled. Most indicated they contained no such ingredients, one was labeled as organic.

Reference: Use a title search (“Survey shows misleading GM free claim”) for the full citation. A news summary and the full survey report are available online at:

” A clear challenge for all is to become more professional in the way science is communicated.”

So concluded European Union Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin in response to a recent Europe-wide survey about genetically modified food. Results showed, for example, that nearly 86 percent of respondents wanted to know more about GM food before eating it. Commissioner Busquin said the results “show that Europe must invest in knowledge at all levels, and especially in scientific information. . People want to learn and want to have information.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Europeans want right to choose”) for the full citation. Archived (December 19, 2001) at:

Tobacco litter – out of the public eye?

Public relations efforts of the U.S. tobacco industry are under fire for more than the health aspects of tobacco. The Center for Media and Democracy recently examined “a pattern of industry funding and collusion” between the tobacco industry and the “Keep America Beautiful” litter awareness group. Writing in PR Watch, Walter Lamb reported that the industry effort is designed to help downplay the global environmental issue of litter from cigarette butts, “the most prolific form of litter in the world.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Keep America Beautiful”) or author search (Lamb) for the full citation. The report is posted online at:

Consumer views of organic foods. 

Research among consumers in England reveals possible changes in attitudes. Research by Mintel during 2001 showed that 18 percent of adults considered organic foods “better for you than their standard equivalent.” This was a decline from 22 percent in 1999.

“Perhaps the real hurdle though is price – 40 percent of people say the cost – often twice that of normal produce – is the most off-putting factor concerning organic food.”

The Soil Association of UK said it “disputes Mintel’s findings,” pointing to nutritional and health benefits of organic foods.

Reference: Use a title search (“Organic turn-off?”) for the Mintel citation. The news report is posted at:
Use a title search (“Soil Association disputes”) for the Association citation. The Soil Association press statement is posted

Professional activities approaching.

March 29, 2002
Deadline for 1- to 2-page abstracts to be submitted for papers proposed for presentation during Research Special Interest Group sessions of the Agricultural Communicators in Education meeting, Savannah, Georgia USA, during August.
Information: Sherrie Whaley at

April 17-19, 2002
“Catch the rhythm,” Agri-Marketing Conference and Trade Show in Nashville, Tennessee USA. Sponsored by National Agri-Marketing Association.

April 18, 2002
Public relations sessions and annual member meeting of Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) in Nashville, Tennessee.

May 18-22, 2002
“Innovation through cooperation,” National Extension TechnologConference (NETC) at Pennsylvania State University USA. For personsinterested in using or supporting technology in extension.

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 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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