ACDC News – Issue 02-22

Another study in counter-attacktics.

Communicators who follow the agricultural biotechnology “debate” found another spurt of criticism, name calling and number juggling in September. That’s when the UK Soil Association released a report, “Seeds of Doubt,” claiming:

  • Use of genetic engineering and biotechnology in U.S. agriculture has been an unqualified disaster.
  • It has severely disrupted GM-free production.
  • It has destroyed trade and undermined the competitiveness of North American agriculture.
  • It is endangering the environment.

Pro-biotech interest groups in various countries responded vigorously, countering those claims and describing the Soil Association report as politically motivated, confusing, misleading, dishonest and containing false notions.

Reference: For some sample references in the ACDC collection, use title searches such as: “Farmers not stupid” and “Let the facts speak for themselves” (posted online September 18, 2002, at: and “U.K. report offers ‘little more than confusion'” (posted online at You also can use a subject search (“biotechnology”) to identify other recent perspectives and concerns.

“…University food scientists need to…speak out on the GE food issue.”

A commentary from the Food Safety Network, University of Guelph, Canada, posed that argument recently. Justin Kastner and Doug Powell said: “When they do not think, when they do not speak out, scientists abdicate their leadership responsibilities and leave students to form their opinions in a sea of websites, conversations rooted in caffeine-stimulated intuition, and conspiracy-theory speculations.” They described and recommended an instructional strategy modeled more than 100 years ago by an agriculture professor at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Reference: Use a title search (“Lecturing and leading”) or author search (Kastner) for the full citation. The commentary was posted September 29, 2002, on

Top health and food concerns of Asian consumers.

A recent survey by ISIS Research among consumers in China, Thailand and the Philippines revealed the following as top-rated food and health concerns:

  • nutritional quality
  • microbial (germ) contamination
  • animal diseases that may be passed to humans

“Biotechnology foods was rated as the issue of least concern.”

Reference: Use a title search (“What citizens in Asia”) for the full citation. A news release about this study was posted by the Asian Food Information Centre at

Americans on a mission to lose 20 pounds (but not to diet). 

A survey early this year by NPD Group revealed that nearly two-thirds of American adults wanted to lose 20 pounds. That was up from 54 percent in 1995. However, if history is any indicator, only about 25 percent began the year on a diet. Furthermore:

“Even though weight is on the minds of more Americans, Eating Patterns in America respondents are less concerned with fat, cholesterol, salt and other nutritional issues than they were in the ’90s.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Americans are on a mission”) for the full citation. This summary was posted on:

When food shoppers enter a dirty-looking store.

More than half (52 percent) would leave a dirty-looking grocery store immediately without buying anything. Nearly three-fourths (74 percent) would immediately leave a dirty-looking fast food restaurant. These reactions were identified during August in a national U.S. survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation International. In addition:

“Grocery store and fast-food patrons spread the word about dirty conditions as well. In fact, a vast majority (90 percent) of those surveyed said they would tell friends and family not to patronize a grocery store or fast-food restaurant they found dirty.”

Reference: Use a title search (“New national survey uncovers grocery”) for the full citation. This news release from PRNewswire was posted September 18, 2002, on FSNet and archived at:

“Online surveys that any communicator can do.”

Members of the Cooperative Communicators Association got ideas about online surveying when they attended the annual CCA meeting earlier this year. The ideas came from Ron Levesque, member relations supervisor for Co-Op Atlantic, based in New Brunswick, Canada. He explained how he and his associates use Microsoft FrontPage to invite subscriber feedback, then use FileMaker Pro to convert the results into something they can calculate and display.

Reference: Use a title search (“Online surveys”) or author search (Levesque) for the full citation.

Lying to the end.

Early farm journals (and other kinds) tried to lure readers and advertisers by claiming circulation levels “far in excess of the truth.” You might appreciate this example from a 1885 issue of Western Plowman:

“The editor was dying, but when the doctor placed his ear to the patient’s heart and muttered sadly: ‘Poor fellow, circulation almost gone.’ [the editor] raised himself and gasped: ‘Tis false! We have the largest circulation of any paper in the country!’

“Then he sank back upon his pillow with a triumphant smile upon his features. He was consistent to the end – lying about his circulation.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Eastern and Midwestern Agricultural Journalism”) or author search (VanDerhoof) for the full citation.

Question of the Day – too tough.

It’s not surprising that no one correctly answered the question we raised in Issue 02-20: “What was the first attempt to form an association of agricultural editors in the U.S., and when?”

No, the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA) was not the first such group formed. According to an item in the February 1969 issue of the AAEA Newsletter:

“…the first recorded attempt to form an association of Agricultural Editors came about 1858 when the editor of the AMERICAN AGRICULTURIST called a meeting in connection with the annual American Pomological Society. An organization was formed with H. P. Byram of the Valley Farmer, Louisville, Kentucky, as President, and Orange Judd of AA as Secretary.”

Whew. That’s much earlier than we would have guessed.

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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