ACDC News – Issue 03-17

“The lawyers are coming. The lawyers are coming.”

So reads the title of an article in Food in Canada magazine about expanding food law activities. Author Ronald L. Doering reported that while the food industry is highly regulated, law-related activity is “mostly invisible to the average consumer.”

He cited several reasons for rising attention to food law. Among them:

“…an unprecedented explosion of interest in food related issues with daily front page stories dealing with: genetically modified foods, major food recalls, manure management, natural health products, allergies, possible new food threats (such as acrylamide), pesticide residues, mad cow disease, and organic foods. Never mind the countless other stories (usually with conflicting information) on nutrition and diet.”

He examined several changes these issues have sparked, including “the emergence of major claims for damages for food borne illness. Most companies have not yet fully appreciated what is happening already and that far worse looms on the horizon.”

Reference: On the “Database Search” page of this site, use a title search (above) or author search (Doering) for the full citation. The article was archived online (June 13, 2003) at:

Consumer confidence in food safety declines in the U.S. 

Consumer confidence that the food in supermarkets is safe declined slightly during the past year, according to the 2003 consumer trends study of the Food Marketing Institute. Seventy-nine percent of shopper respondents said they felt sure the food they buy is safe from contamination, compared to 81 percent in 2002. More than one-third (35 percent) said they think processor/manufacturing plants are the places where problems are most likely to occur, followed by restaurants (15 percent). Four percent cited farms.

Reference: Use a title search (Confidence in food safety) for the full citation.

Icons of agricultural advertising. 

Two producer-sponsored advertising campaigns were featured in the recent book, A Century of American Icons: 100 Products and Slogans from the 20th Century Consumer Culture. One of these generic advertising campaigns promoted a farm commodity during the 1980s, one during the 1990s.

Can you identify them? What do you think they are? Send your hunches to us at:

No, they do not include Elsie, 

The Borden Cow made famous by Borden, Inc., during the 1930s. A producer organization, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), now holds rights to the Elsie and Borden trademarks that are used on DFA products. According to Advertising Age, she is one of the ten most successful icons of the 20th century, but we are not counting her here as part of a producer-sponsored advertising campaign.

Reference: Use a title search (Century of American icons) or author search (Cross) for the full citation.

Media coverage of food biotechnology has been highly one-sided, said Michael Rodemeyer at a workshop last November.

“Advocates on both sides of this issue do agree on [that] one thing,” he observed. “Unfortunately, they disagree on which side the media has been taking.”

The workshop was entitled, “When media, science and public policy collide: the case of food and biotechnology.” Participants probed the processes by which reporters seek to “distill the often-confusing array of opinions about the potential risks and benefits of GM foods into stories that can be understood by a mass audience.”

Reference: Use a title search (above) for the full citation. Proceedings, in summary form, were posted

Conflicts of interest – by the hundreds

“…most self-respecting community journalists have hundreds, if not thousands, of such conflicts by virtue of their involvement in the community,” said publisher Troy Gustavson in a commentary for the Center for Community Journalism. Organizational memberships. Financial connections. Friends in public office. The list goes on.

Gustavson said he doesn’t see how a true community newspaper can avoid ethical dilemmas. Did he advise refusing memberships and otherwise trying to avoid conflicts of interest? No. Instead: “The answer, I think, is to never let those conflicts interfere with the newspaper’s primary mission: to tell the truth at every turn about what’s happening in the community it serves. So when the ferry company calls up and says, ‘Cut out the negative coverage…or else,’ you’ve got to choose ‘or else’.”

Reference: Use a title search (Ethical conflicts) or author search (Gustavson) for the full citation. The commentary was posted on:

Roots of agricultural communicating. 

The following observation caught our eye recently as we entered a new/old document into the ACDC collection. It came from Carl R. Woodward, president of the University of Rhode Island, a half-century ago:

“We might say that agricultural communication is as old as agriculture itself. … Scenes of rural life engraved in stone by the people of ancient times, the Biblical record – Old Testament stories, the pastoral poetry of the Psalms, the rural parables of the New Testament – and the writings on agriculture by the Greeks and the Romans reflect the evolution of agricultural communications.”

Reference: Use a title search (A look back) or author search (Woodward) for the full citation.

Why agricultural programs were among the first on radio. 

From the start, radio programmers in the U.S. recognized that the new medium held special potential for rural areas. Radio promised to help break the isolation, improve rural life and bolster the efficiency of farming. In addition, research by Marcel C. LaFollette suggests another reason that agricultural programming was among the first aired on radio.

LaFollete observed that agriculture and public health were “…(not uncoincidentally) areas in which government agencies and communities of experts took an early, active interest.” Examples: weather reports as early as 1921 and regular farm market reports as early as 1922.

Reference: Use a title search (Survey of science content) or author search (LaFollette) for the full citation.

Agricultural communications students as (un)critical thinkers. 

They are about the same as non-agricultural communications students in this regard, according to a study by University of Florida researchers. Results of a 2002 survey among students at 12 U.S. universities revealed that 17% showed a strong disposition toward critical thinking while 66% were classified as weak.

“…it behooves agricultural communications educators and researchers to explore ways to activate and enhance critical thinking dispositions on the part of their students’ future success,” the researchers concluded.

Reference: Use a title search (Critical thinking dispositions) or author search (Bisdorf-Rhoades) for the full citation.

Professional activities approaching

November 11-16, 2003
“NAFB – a voice for agriculture.” Annual convention of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters at the Westin Crown Center, Kansas City, Missouri. Information:

New home for ACDC. 

We are pleased to report that the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center moved during early September. It is now located in the new Library, Information and Alumni Center of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) here at the University of Illinois. You can see a photo of the new building in the upper-left corner of our home page.

Administratively, ACDC is now a special collection and information center within the ACES Library. It continues its expanding service in partnership with the Library and the Information Technology and Communication Services Unit of this college.

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. Send

  • hard copies to:
    Ag Com Documentation Center
    510 LIAC Library
    1101 S. Goodwin Avenue
    Urbana, IL 61801
  • or electronic copies to:

September 2003

Updated on