ACDC News – Issue 02-11

“In the ag media, electronic releases are hot.” 

So reported Owen Roberts, University of Guelph, after surveying some editors of magazines and provincial weekly and monthly newspapers in Canada. His report appeared in the January issue of The Nib,” newsletter of the Eastern Canada Farm Writers’ Association.

Respondents said that an average of 25 to 30 percent of the editorial content in their periodicals originated with news releases. On average, the editors were getting at least 25 news releases a day (electronic, fax and snail mail). Most said they “receive 25 to 50 percent of their news releases electronically, and those numbers are on the rise.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Informal survey shows pick up is fantastic”) or author search (Roberts) for the full citation. The report was posted online at:

Wire service carrying more (biased) agricultural news.

A comparative content analysis of agricultural news carried by a U.S. wire service shows a bittersweet trend. According to research by Scarlett Hagins, Jacquie Lockaby, Cindy Akers and Lance Kieth, the Associated Press posted 22 percent more agricultural articles in November 2000 than in November 1997. However, the articles in 2000 contained significantly more inference sentences. “The majority of these sentences contain no ‘tip-off’ words to let the reader know that the information is subjective to some extent.” Authors recommended efforts to increase the agricultural literacy of reporters, as well as the general public.

Reference: Use a title search (“Associated Press wire service coverage”) or author search (Hagins) for the full citation. This paper was posted online at:

Online peer review: new avenue for science research reporting?

“The editorial review of scientific papers usually takes place behind closed doors, but could the process be improved by opening it up for all to see?” A recent news feature in Nature magazine examined the pros and cons of some experiments that scientific journals are using to test this approach.

Reference: Use a title search (“Peer review, unmasked”) or author search (Gura) for the full citation. The article was posted online at:

Why U.S. farmers are adopting GM crops.

 Increased yields (through better pest control), lower pesticide costs, increased planting flexibility and perceived environmental benefits. These are the main reasons cited in an April 2002 brief from the Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. “However, actual benefits in terms of costs, yields, and pesticide use vary with the crop and engineered trait.”

This brief also summarized 1995-2001 trends in U.S. farmers’ adoption of genetically modified cotton, corn and soybeans.

Reference: Use a title search (“Agricultural biotechnology: adoption”) for the full citation. The brief was posted online at

When live links go dead. 

What do you do when you try a live link within an ACDC citation and learn that it no longer connects you to the information you want? URLs that we cite are subject to change, as you know – often without our knowledge. Here are a couple of suggestions for you when you find that live links have gone dead.

  1. Sometimes you can discover documents of interest on web sites by pruning back the URL, searching on basic parts of it (e.g., the home page), then looking for the documents you desire.
  2. Get in touch with us ( when you find dead links in our database. If we can’t find the document of interest online we may have a paper copy or electronic file here in the Center.

Opposing messages about food irradiation.

 An article in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper (Ottawa, Canada) highlights several dimensions of the conflicting arguments about irradiating food. Reporter James DeWan briefly summarized the sword-crossing messages from Public Citizen (watchdog group founded by Ralph Nader) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They centered on these aspects of irradiation:

  •    Health effects on animals and humans
  •    Effects on nutritional value
  •    Effects on flavor, odor and texture of food
  •    Effects on food sanitation efforts
  •    Possible formation of new chemicals that have not been studied

DeWan observed, “It is hard to reconcile the two camps’ opinions on the topic.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Key organizations disagree”) for the full citation. The article was posted on:

“Two views on food labeling.” 

That is the title of a for-and-against report published recently by the U.S. Department of State “to provide a full picture of the shape of the discussion in the United States.” Ellen Matten, international policy analyst in the U.S. Codex Office, cited challenges associated with country of origin labeling, labeling of foods derived from biotechnology and risks that labels may mislead consumers. Kristen Dawkins and Neil Sorensen of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy emphasized the importance of label information in protecting the health and safety of consumers, especially given the unknowns associated with bioengineered foods and feed.

Reference: Use a title search (above) or author search (above) for the full citation. The report was posted on:

Crop reports gathered scientifically? Not exactly.

“The USDA crop progress report is a market mover, but the way the data is collected . at the county level varies and is not exactly scientific.” So reported Mike McGinnis in a recent news article from DTN He described the various information gathering methods used by USDA Farm Service Agencies (FSA) offices in Iowa, Illinois and Ohio. Among the methods cited: straw polling co-workers in the office, inviting opinions from bank appraisers, use of farmer committees and phone calls to farmers.

Reference: Use a title search (“FSA not only source”) or author search (McGinnis) for the full citation. The article was posted May 21 on:

Welcome to Jing Zhang,

New part-time assistant in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. A doctoral candidate in the College of Communications here at the University of Illinois, Jing brings valuable experience and interests to our mission. For example, three years of professional experience as a strategic planner at J. Walter Thompson Advertising Agency followed her undergraduate studies in psychology at Peking University, China. She is helping process materials into the ACDC collection and we look forward to working with her.

We enjoyed hosting a visitor from Ontario, Canada, early this month.

Kristy Nudds, a graduate student at the University of Guelph, spent two days reviewing materials in the ACDC collection and University of Illinois Library for her thesis research project.

Professional activities approaching.

July 22-25, 2002
“Hit the jackpot in Reno!” Agricultural Publications Summit, fourth annual joint meeting of American Agricultural Editors’ Association, Livestock Publications Council, APA: the Association of Leading Ag Media Companies, and Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. Meeting at Reno, Nevada.
Information: orwww.livestockpublications.comBack to top

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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